What’s stopping you or your peers from making a meaningful change in your teaching practice? What are the “yeah, but” arguments you hear when you propose a new idea, a way to do something differently?
Rob Mancabelli and Will Richardson, authors ofPersonal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education, asked a few hundred teachers to list the “yeah-buts” they hear from other teachers, administrators, and parents.
The audience attending the packed ISTE Conference yesterday had a long list of complaints and objections they’ve heard along the way.
Here are just a few:
- It’s not safe to let kids experiment on the Internet.
- We need to block and filter sites.
- It’s always been this way.
- Is it standards-based?
- We don’t have this technology in our school.
- We don’t know how to use this technology
- It’s disruptive to the classroom.
- Will it help our assessment scores?
- It’s not rigorous enough.
- We don’t have enough bandwidth or infrastructure.
- We don’t have enough money.
- There’s no room for this in our curriculum.
- Teachers can’t be trusted.
- It has a negative effect on the brain.
- Does everyone have to do it? Why isn’t something that you do, if you’re so interested.
- Students are cheating when they look stuff up.
- It’s too fun.
Richardson and Mancabelli have some advice for frustrated educators who run into the proverbial wall when they propose new ideas: appeal to the nay-sayers’ emotions, rather than their intellect.
“Often our response to a ‘yeah-but’ is one of defensiveness and this can sometimes derail the conversation,” wrote Trevor Shaw.
In addition to listing all the rational reasons why the idea might work (introducing critical thinking, introducing autonomy, showing trust, engaging thought), ask them: “What’s at the root of this for you? Why don’t you think you can’t make this change?”
Chances are you’ll hear some interesting answer, which can then be rationally addressed.