Once upon a time, teachers felt that they could close their classroom doors and hunker down to business with their students. And despite the ministry’s best efforts to standardize and in-service teachers to the hilt, few still manage to find some sort of intimate connection with their students.
The tendency to work alone in the teaching profession has weakened over the past few years, but I would risk to say only in the elementary panel. Unfortunately our friends in secondary still abide by an industrial ideology that compartmentalizes learning to meet the curriculum needs. Interesting that secondary is often over looked when it comes to adopting ideologies and methodoligies that reflect the times – I wonder why..
Never-the-less, teachers are faced with a different type of challenge – an intrusion – into their once private realms – their classrooms. Ask any one who knows a teacher or works out of a school and you will easily determine that teachers are among the most territorial human beings in the modern world. One can only speculate that our tendency to over-protect comes from a perception of lack.
Asking an educator to change is much different than asking anyone else. At this point in time, over 90% of the workforce is a product of the ‘stand and lecture’, school bell ringing, subject by subject, birth year by birth year school system. (and I don’t have any statistics to back that up… just a hunch..) The problem is that educators never really leave that system – they go right back into it, which perpetuates the problem magnanimously – it fuels a broken system.
The first step for teachers to become familiar with change is to begin in the smallest of ways: Team teach. Team teaching has existed for many years and many teachers have been successful at it. For the rest of the teaching population to succeed, we must provide new ways of collaboration, without the fear of judgement, evaluation or assessment. Start with one subject, one project and move on from there. In this light, even secondary teachers from different disciplines can begin to teach cross-curricular material – quite easily actually!
Provide teachers with an open access, free for all opportunity to collaborate and teachers will take the first step into the wonderful world of professional networking.