Ask and you shall receive.

While I was ambling around a couple of days ago on the subject of technology (specifically blogging) in professional development, a hubbub was bubbling over at Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed about "yeah-but" technology ennui in a group of graduate education students.

The general sense from the group was “yeah, but” once again. Yeah, but
we have these kids who are going to abuse these technologies if we open
them up. Yeah, but we’re going to be out there on our own if we decide
to use these technologies. Yeah, but I don’t have enough time to make
this a part of my own practice. Yeah, but, etc.

In response, Kimberly Moritz brought down the house with an exasperation-inspired comment on Will’s post and a more elaborate post on her G-Town Talks blog. Her frustration wasn’t with Will, or even the group of grad students—it was more that the whole scenario pointed out once again how hard this kind of change really is. Coming at the issue of technology-intransigence from an administrator’s perspective, she decided she needs a new set of interview questions for prospective new hires if she wants teachers who are open to change.

In considering graduate students in education, Will’s post made me
really stop and think about the interview process. When I search for a
new teacher, do I have a preconceived model of a teacher in my mind? Of
course I do, we all do. Is it an outdated model?  I’m going to
seriously reconsider what that model is from now on. Like everyone, I
look for content expertise, experience, a practical knowledge of
pedagogy, technology skills, and a sense that the person will connect
with our kids, among other things.

From this point forward, I’m going to seek out candidates who have
done something with their lives outside of going to high school,
getting a teaching degree, and returning to school. I want teachers who
have lived a little, who have shown a deep passion and curiosity for something, heck, for anything.

And she adds:

I should start trying to hire teachers who weren’t successful in
school. I’ll add interview questions that ask, “what did you hate when
you were in school and why?” “What do you want to do differently?”
“What do you think and what are you curious about?”

I know our teacher candidates aren’t any farther ahead than we
are–it takes curiosity, guts, and determination–and that’s available at
any age.

That’s a lightning-flash of insight into her own practice, leading immediately to a concrete change.  Miguel Guhlin asks what administrators can do "to create environments that support teacher construction of personal learning networks." Asking different questions, like Kimberly, and listening to the answers is a good start. What do you want to do differently? And being willing to sail off the edge of a traditional teaching resume into uncharted waters. What do you think and what are you curious about?

Miguel’s question is a good one. I nibbled at the edges of it, but didn’t have to wait long for Kimberly’s better answer to show up. Ask and you shall receive.

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