How to get the “Tipping Point”

Borrowing the phrase from Malcolm Gladwell, I am searching for ways to get to the tipping point with my teachers’ interest in technology.  Last school year, we, as faculty, agreed to work to get our students to take better care of their physical spaces at school.  We adopted the tipping point theory and worked with a group of kids (mavens) to spread this “green” fever throughout the school.  Overall, it was successful, though we have a ways to go, we did raise awareness that we can build on next school year.

Now I’m thinking how I can get to the tipping point with faculty and their use of read/write tools in their classes.  I’m mostly thinking about the faculty that has no interest in technology for whatever reason (no time, don’t see that it applies to the their class, see no need to change what they are doing after xx years).  I know there is no magic wand, no magic potions, or even magic professional development program.  I know that it ultimately has to come from the teacher – they have to want to learn it.  Even if they are exposed to the tools, they will have no interest in using them if they can’t see exactly how they would make them work.

Teachers that have some interest will attend optional workshops throughout the year and the summer.  I’ve offered those workshops and I get a core group of faculty who get really excited about the tools and can’t wait for September to use them (well, they can probably wait).  I have no problem reaching these teachers – we have great discussions, they can see real value in the tools, and they seem to just drink up whatever you give them.

It’s the other population that I have trouble reaching.  Every workshop they sit in, they pick apart the technology, focus on the negatives, claim they couldn’t possible use technology unless every student has a laptop (we are not 1-to-1), or they just can’t imagine why they would want to embrace these technologies when what they are doing is just fine.

So I need to work on reaching the tipping point.  A point at which these teachers will say, “Hmmm – maybe there is something to these technologies?”  I need to continue to work with the enthusiastic teachers (my “mavins”) in hopes that their energy will spillover to the other folks.  Of course I will still be there pushing from the other side, trying to show them the benefits of using these technologies – personally, professionally, and pedagogically.  And as Chris Lehman reminds me, I have to remain humble in my promotion of there tools.  I really like what Chris says in the last paragraph of his post:

I do think that the educators in my aggregator can change the world. But I think we all have to understand that a) change is slower than we’d want, and b) to change the world, we have to be as close to the ideal versions of ourselves as we can. We have to be passionate and dedicated and smart and inclusive and tireless and humble. We have to be better tomorrow at being who we are than we are today. Our ideas and work can change the world and make a difference, but only if we are willing to constantly change ourselves.

Yes, change is slow (some days it seems to go backwards), but we do have to remain passionate and energized through our conversations with one another.  I can’t imagine where our jobs would be without these tools.

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