Teachers always feel a sense of urgency. We’re always in a rush. Teaching is an occupation that has no flexibility in its schedule, at least not in K-12 education. Every moment is accounted for. But, that’s not the urgency that helps kids learn.
Joanne Kelleher, an assistant principal at William T. Rogers Middle School in Kings Park, N.Y., brings to mind the right kind of urgency; quoting high school principal Ben Johnson (2013), “This sense of urgency emanates from the teacher’s attitude, demeanor, spark in their eyes, and the bounce in their step.” Author, John Kotter, talks about how well-promoted urgency helps organizations change. That, together with appealing to the heart, and reducing complacency are the ingredients of successful organizational change. Take a look at the video (below) and continue reading to learn more about the Heart of Urgency at Prince of Peace in 2016-2017.
In the video, Learning to Change-Changing to Learn, posted 2008, educators immediately understand the sense of urgency about bringing technology into the classroom. Viewers walk away feeling they must act fast to remain effective as educators. That was eight years ago. What have we done since then? During the 2016-2017 school year, Prince of Peace Catholic School will dedicate an entire year to the development of its faculty and the integration of technology into the lives of teachers – because that’s where change begins.
Our teachers are part of a community that believes effective teachers create experiences that develop strong character, good work habits, and a love of learning in their students. These are the skills that prepare kids to think independently and act compassionately as they contribute to society. What’s changed in recent years is how society operates. We live in a digital world and our classrooms have to reflect the environment students will actually experience. To create authentic experiences teacher have to incorporate digital tools. Teachers hesitate and avoid technology because they don’t feel well-prepared. They must develop a true sense of urgency before teachers will voluntarily change the way they teach.
Our teachers can’t wait any longer to get on board. Our students need their help and direction. Young kids shouldn’t have to navigate the digital community without someone they can trust. The shouldn’t leave our school wondering if they have the skills to post properly online, join an online conversation, or how to collaborate using online tools. They shouldn’t feel confused and upset about why their words were read and misinterpreted as hurtful. They shouldn’t have to guess if what they discover online is true, or stumble onto what they aren’t prepared to see.
Students shouldn’t feel ashamed when they make a mistake online or feel isolated when a text or other online conversation goes bad. Students need their teachers – people they can trust. Students SHOULD feel ready and prepared – and so should our teachers.
The mistakes that come with learning these skills should happen in the loving, supportive environment that makes Catholic education so remarkable. It begins with educating our teachers. When they feel ready and prepared their urgency about protecting kids from the dangers and mistakes of online behavior (behavior that is inevitable) will become the motivation they need to learn, use, and teach others.
How do we move our teachers’ attention from the safety of low-tech education when it yields great academic results? We reintroduce to our teachers the heartfelt needs our students have to learn these essential life skills in the classroom, where they feel safe and loved.
The “bounce in a teacher’s step”, an attitude of excitement comes from a teacher’s own feelings of passion and preparedness, the same is true for students. Technology leaders will spend the year preparing teachers thoroughly, by putting digital tools in their toolkits, helping them learn to use them, and connecting teachers’ hearts to the real reasons these skills matter to kids. Our mission is to educate the whole child, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and academically using modern tools in the Catholic tradition, and this year we’ll spend 180 days dedicated to accomplishing IT through our teachers.
Johnson, B. (2013, March 12). Building a sense of urgency in the classroom. Edutopia.www.edutopia.org/blog/buildingsense-of-urgency-classroom-ben-johnson
Kelleher, J. (2015). Create a sense of urgency to spark learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 97(2), 21. doi:10.1177/0031721715610086
Kotter, John. (2013, Aug 15). Leasing Change: Establishing a Sense of Urgency. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI.
Kotter, John. (2011, Mar 23). John Kotter- The Heart of Change. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/1NKti9MyAAw.
Floyda007. (2008, May 15). Learning to Change Changing to Learn. [Video File]. Advancing K-12 Technology Leadership, Consortium for School Networking(COSN) Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/tahTKdEUAPk.