If a person stays a teacher for more than a couple of years, one might assess that they are comfortable in the environment. After all, each teacher is probably a product of success during their own K12 sequence. It isn’t common to find a successful teacher who hated school as a kid.
Adults, by nature, are habit oriented. We have *learned* what works for us. Our habits have developed through many repetitions. As a bunch, teachers aren’t much different from other ordinary adults. We have learned to fit in.
Changing oneself is accomplished not through comfort but dissatisfaction and discomfort. We must first be unhappy with “the way things are.” It would certainly be odd to think that the majority of those planning a teaching career would have disliked or even “hated” school.
So, it is those who are less normal, those who are restless, uncomfortable or fit some other description of dissatisfaction who change. Maybe they change jobs, change subjects or grade levels, change to be an administrator. Are they seeking “change” or are they seeking a role that “fits”? Are they seeking comfort?
Not all educators are alike. Some are more the “thrill seeker” sort. But much of that energy is expended on free-time activities. Teachers go skiing, climb mountains, hang glide, whatever. Maybe even the thrill seekers are glad to return during the school week to a safe haven.
So, what about baby steps, what about change?
An example: Our system offered email to all teachers and for two years, some people did use it, while the majority didn’t regularly use it, until it was the only way administrators sent student absence lists around. Even then, some teachers would ask a neighbor to print a copy of the email for them.
Top-down isn’t the answer, but somehow we need to systematically provde a change-engendering “discomfort.”
One suggestion I’d like to make is that all administrators change “faculty meetings” into edcamp experiences where the faculty is questioning, seeking, asking and answering…leading.
All too many current teachers tell me it is still the same for them as it was for me. Faculty meetings were the time when I heard announcements (which could have been emailed) and district plans and almost never a teacher voice.
I don’t know if that’s a baby step or not. If the teachers assume the responsibility for control of the faculty meeting, perhaps they’ll assume more responsibility for the structure of the school and feel the “comfort” to change, maybe even change in a big way.
Posted as a comment to “My Island View”, the blog of Tom Witby