Not having written a post for Leadership Day since 2008 I felt compelled to participate this year.
My post is titled: Who moved my cheese: A glimpse of educator's hesitancy with technology and my transition in life.
The motivational book "Who Moved My Cheese" by Spencer Johnson deals with, at least by my interpretation, complacency, becoming too comfortable in life and our careers. Basically going to the same place for our "cheese," even though we know it may be out of date. We even realize it may not be the best but we continue to go back out of habit. When it's gone we wonder what has occurred. In most cases, we continue going back expecting the cheese to be there and when it doesn't magically appear, we moan and groan and wonder what will become of the future. The search for the new cheese must begin soon if we are to remain successful.
This parable can be applied to an educator's hesitancy with technology and the move to a 21st century pedagogy.We teach a certain way, class after class, year after year, even as times change we still return to the same place for the 20th century cheese. The reality is change has already occurred, the cheese has moved but some choose not to accept this reality. When colleagues explore and find new cheese, we may venture out with them but at the first sign of adversity we press the "easy button" and return to where we are comfortable, the 20th century. The cheese is still gone. We know we need to search for the new 21st century cheese yet we persist in banning, blocking and criticizing what we choose not to understand. We yearn for the past when teachers were the primary source of information and when students were taught there was only one right answer. We want a simpler time where memorizing dates, book reports and dioramas ruled the day.
The solution to this complacency lies in leadership. Administrators must be able to lead the way by supporting and modeling the use of 21st century pedagogy. Lifelong learning must be a key component in our teaching communities. It is imperative we remain a part of the learning cycle. We must be cognizant of the difficulty our students endure learning a new skill. The second decade of the 21st century is underway and the time has arrived for leaders to embrace the changes. We must lead teachers to the new cheese or at the very least support those teachers who have found the new cheese.
This book has been valuable to me in my educational career. The first time was 13 years ago when I transitioned from Head of School back into the classroom. The second time is now, as I transition from being a Principal, not renewed because of the school's financial situation, to an educational consultant dealing with implementing technology in the classroom. Personally, both transitions in my career evolved as finding my cheese after it had been moved. I am still in the process of searching but I do realize this is also a learning experience. While I miss the location of my last cheese, I realize it's gone. However, I am confident what lies ahead will be what I have been called to do.