Another year of the Mighty Smackdown has begun. My third, and fifth for the Smack down itself. This is a professional development opportunity for teachers to read and familiarize themselves with some Young Adult literature that is available. New books are selected each year, many are award winners. Teachers are divided into teams. Each team reads two novels and advances one. Sometimes it is a hard choice, either because you like them both or because you don’t. Other times the choice is so clear and obvious. We keep reading, voting and then blogging about our choices. As books are eliminated, the groups get bigger. Until there are only two books left and the whole group votes on which book can be the one and only victor…or until the facilitators have to break the tie, like last year. I have been fortunate enough to like the winner in both of my previous years which is NOT the case for all my colleagues. The first bracket is done, and the victors have been announced. Excited about bracket number 2. Check it out at the link below.
There is a place where teachers gather…well cyber-gather. They read two novels and vote on which will move on to the next round. This is the quarter finals, and another novel has fallen and one will rise again. To follow the exciting literary adventures visit the Mighty Smackdown. 🙂
I find myself invigorated by the idea of teaching using practices that are new and innovative. I am intrigued by the use of technology I see my colleagues using…”tell me more,” “show me how” I want to say. I am fascinated by the research on best teaching practices, and I find myself feeling like I need to look at what I do in a different way or add to what I am doing with a different technique or a different process.
I remember feeling frustrated and a bit disappointed in teachers who didn’t want things to change or felt that change was too much work. It wasn’t that I meant to be judgmental, it was just the disillusioning of a young idealist who believed that everyone would want to be at the top of their game. I believed that there would be so many people clamouring to be on the cutting edge, there may be risk of getting knocked over or left behind.
Now that I have a bit more age and experience, I realize that there will always be a new idea, a new fad, a new way of doing things. Some will be research based, and some will be put forth by charismatic, persuasive, creative thinkers, where there is little or no evidence of empirical support. These movements toward change often involve large amounts of work, and time, and resources.
When you see these fads come and go, and you know the work that is involved in implementation, it can be difficult to rush to jump on the bandwagon. Often times, change is expected to come completely at the expense of teachers. What I mean by that is that little or no time or other resources provided. Administration comes up with a ‘great idea’ and teachers are left to add the work to their long list of to-dos. This means that in addition to all of the regular planning, teaching, assessing, meeting, documenting, etc. teachers would need to find the time to implement whatever changes are needed to make this ‘great idea’ a reality.
It is easy to understand why some teachers are not always willing to spring forth with enthusiasm on the winds of change. What would make it easier to engage teachers in change making processes is to have changes thought out, research supported, and to give appropriate timelines and resource support to teachers to make those changes. Also, allowing teachers to be part of the deciding what changes are going to be made, and to help determine the time line for change would go a long way to breaking down resistance.