Wow, when I was a kid there weren’t many things I hated hearing more than “Wait and see”. I admit it, I wasn’t a patient child and I am not the most patient adult. When I know that something exciting is going to happen I suffer through the anticipation. I think the reason I am this way is that I have been blessed with a pretty active imagination. Once I get an idea in my head, I can quickly turn it into something so much bigger than it probably will turn out to be. To be honest, I am ok with it, because while my imagination can lead to the occasional minor disappointment, it also helps me be a better husband, brother, son, teacher, and coach.
Where I really get in trouble is when I get an idea in my mind about how I can improve the education I provide for my students. Yesterday, I wrote about an iPad for every Teacher and I got a lot of feedback. A lot of the time I hear the reasons why an idea can’t happen, often its about cost, and I have to accept that while an idea might be good, we’ll have to “Wait and see if the money is there”. I don’t do well with this. Our division is on the verge of opening up the WiFi in every building so that students can access the network with their own devices. We are lucky here, I know many school divisions are a ways away from this step, but we have had to wait for some time. I didn’t deal well with waiting for this either.
I read a blog post by a principal in our division Shaye Patras, in the post he wonders why our schools haven’t changed in the last 100 years while every other profession, field and industry has? I believe it is because of the year-to-year micromanagement that is required to balance budgets and run schools. I remember speaking with George Couros last year when I was working as an Assistant Principal and discussing making decisions on technology in our building. I asked him how he moved forward in his building and started 1-to-1 initiatives in some of his classrooms. There were many things he told me about, but the main idea was that he had to break from traditional practices and creatively come up with ways to find the money and buy what his students needed. I find it sad that it takes so much work to make change happen.
This is no indictment of school administration, of school division executives, of education departments or even governments. Its more of a challenge to everyone to be sure that they are doing everything they can to make change possible.
iPad for every teacher? Can we look at stopping our purchasing of textbooks and dedicate the money towards this initiative? Can the government give a tax break to any teacher who buys their own iPad? Can a school division work out a purchasing agreement with Apple to get a better deal? Can a Parent Council take this on as a key fundraising project?
I am not satisfied with “Wait and See” solutions, or waiting for others to solve our problems. The only way we can break free of the chains of this type of thinking is to change our thinking. The only way to change our schools is to break free from what we have always done. At some level, someone needs to step up and change what is being done, so that we don’t have to have our students “Wait and See” if they can have the quality education they deserve.