I was sitting at a conference this afternoon with a bunch of other teachers, ICT co-ordinators and a few others involved in ICT and education.
And you may not realise this but most teachers who take on ICT in schools do so quite reluctantly, because no matter how you look at it, it is a big job, especially when it is in addition to teaching a class.
And the guys at the front of the conference, the big guns, all stood around and tried to impress the 95% majority of female teachers as they strutted their stuff and talked jargon to impress.
The really silly part of it all though, is that they really did not impress anyone but themselves. One guy sat there behind his laptop at the front, with an Interactive Whiteboard at his disposal, and then proceeded to run through such things as how to use a forum, make the most of his gimmicky little site features, and add resources to his big list of two files added thus far. He spoke with his back to us and rarely had any eye contact. He also mumbled and made jokes to himself that no-one but himself and his cronies understood. Did he do this as teacher in a class too?
I actually felt embarrassed for these people, as the teachers around me laughed at their stupidity and others shook their head as if to say, what the hell are you guys talking about?
The sad reality in so many of these situations is that the people at the top are generally the ones who are the most out of touch. As we sit at a conference such as this and they pour out their ideas, we as teachers, think to ourselves is it really feasible to implement this idea in a practical situation without spending a huge amount of time in preparation? And, is this huge amount of preparation justified by the result?
More often than not the answer is NO.
I learnt a very valuable lesson in life when I was in another profession.
Many moons ago, I was a chef and was able to move up the ladder of promotion until I arrived at the peak one day and found myself being called the Executive Chef, in charge of 3 separate restaurants, wearing a suit and tie instead of my familiar chequered black and whites and spending vast amounts of money on purchases and staff.
And after 6 months of this dramatically changed lifestyle – almost living with food company reps, counselling the staff, hiring and firing the staff and generally doing exhorbitant amounts of paperwork, I realised one day that I had not cooked a meal in over 3 months.
So I went back into the kitchen to get back in touch with it all. And it was the best move I ever made. No matter who you are, and how good you are [or how good you think you are], you have to keep a finger in the pie, a toe in the water, a taste in your mouth. No matter how you describe it – you have to keep the initial passion alive.
In education this is even more important because you are talking about changing the lives of the next generation. As teachers you have the future right in your hands, staring up at you with innocent eyes and hearts of gold. If you leave the classroom for too long and forget what it means to see a child suddenly click as a new piece of information is taken on board, then what do you really have to offer the profession overall.
I am a very firm believer in leadership working on a rotating level, whether it be in private enterprise or the education sector. It has so many benefits to the whole working environment and it means you can always keep in touch at the root level.