New #EdTech, Old Teachers, The Adoption Myth #ISTE

An unfortunate assumption that edupreneurs frequently make is one that is also made by administrators inside the system; the ageist assumption that older teachers are unlikely to change their practice. It is a small minority of teachers in their later years that refuse to change their practice. My experience has been just the opposite of what the stereotype suggests. Younger teachers, those in their first four years of teaching, are far less likely to adopt new technologies because they are so focussed on the number one concern of every secondary teacher, classroom management. By classroom management I mean all of the little things teachers do, like making seating charts, initiating a kickoff activity to start each class, and using 3 x 5 cards to be equitable in calling for volunteers, that keep a safe and productive environment in the classroom.

It is the senior teachers, more comfortable in their authoritative role, that are eager to enliven their practice by trying something new. Much of the action in the exploding EdTech sphere right now is happening in charter schools. Part of the reason is that charter schools are looking to accomplish the same or better outcomes with less capital. Consequently, charter school leaders are willing to take risks on things like blended learning, that might enable them to decrease the required professional teaching instructional hours required of the school. Another reason, I fear, is the misconception that gray hair equates with unmoving didactic teaching.

Unfortunately, my sample size is small when I counter this ageist assumption, and my analysis is holistic. Nonetheless, I will put it out to my community for debate. Those most enthusiastic about finding the next Brainpop, Khan, Edmodo, Polleverywhere, etc. in my district are the more seasoned teachers. My EdTech flavored Twitter feed is filled with seasoned faces, madly Tweeting about the power of technology to change instruction, flip the classroom, and improve our model from within.

Edupreneurs fear not! We are a friendly tribe, and we just might be able to help you figure out what might work and what might not.

About Jack West

Consultant, writer, analyst, teacher, coach, maker.

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