Resistant Teachers can be a Real Challenge for Professional Developers
by Barbara Bray
Professional Development Desk
CUE Newsletter March/April 2000
You can probably
see the face of the teacher I am writing about: the one who rolls his
or her eyes when you mention technology or the one who gives you every
reason why technology will not work nor make a difference. These teachers
can no longer say that technology is just a fad. Technology is not going
away. As a professional developer, you may be given the task to support
all the teachers at your site and build their proficiency levels for
technology use. The district may have mandated teachers to use computers
with their students. What do you do with the teachers that resist any
support or fight using technology? No, it's not realistic to say get
rid of them, even if you want to. Just because they do not use technology
does not mean they are not good teachers. Resistance is mostly because
of fear of any change. Many teachers are busy with their daily routines
and can find any excuse when asked to add something new. "Why change
what is working?" Many teachers find that it is easier to maintain the
status quo; with what has been comfortable. Some teachers are afraid
of taking any risk and exposing themselves as lacking skills especially
in front of their students.
of change can be categorized into three levels of resistance as stated
by Rick Maurer(1):
One: "Resistance to any Use of Technology."
These teachers do not understand what the administration is trying to
accomplish, or if the school realizes how much technology will cost
in time or money. They have their own ideas about what the school should
do, like the status quo, and believe the timing is wrong. Their main
concern may just be afraid of letting others know what they don't know.
Two: "Deeper than the use of technology."
These teachers believe the administration has made promises before which
they did not keep. They are afraid that technology use is really the
start of something deeper and fear if they do not use technology, they
will no longer be included as "in." Actually, many of these teachers
may be worn out by taking on so many changes all at once and may not
be completely opposed to using technology.
Three: "Deeply embedded resistance."
These teachers may have deeply entrenched distrust over many years.
They fight anything the administration is supporting because values
differ from what teachers want and what administration is proposing.
One of the best ways to assure success is to have all the teachers vote
on supporting the staff development program before you begin. The California
Digital High School grant process will not start unless a majority of
the teachers agree to participate. After the vote you may have 15% who
do not want to participate. Is this acceptable? What happens to the
children in their classrooms? We need to work with as many teachers
as we can, even the most resistant, for our children's sake.
has their own learning style and situation with different opportunities
and challenges. As professional developers, we need to employ a variety
of techniques and resources. We need to build a team onsite to support
teachers in their classroom. Every teacher has to have a way of voicing
their opinion on how technology works with their curriculum. If they
join a study group of four or five arranged either by grade, subject,
or project, teachers will mutually support one another. Hopefully, if
the focus in each group is relevant to what they are teaching, everyone
some strategies for a successful technology professional development
program that supports all your teachers:
a library of resources with examples of lessons and support material.
a support team of mentors or coaches who can visit each teacher's
classroom to plan and model a lesson using technology, provide support
with classroom management issues, and give ideas of assessment.
refrain from judgment.
to their needs carefully.
- Do not
touch the mouse.
- Be sensitive
to each learner and provide acceptance for their beliefs.
that change takes time and is different for everyone.
comes in many forms and can become overwhelming for us as staff developers.
Use the three levels to identify who you are working with and approach
each teacher with what will work for them. One teacher may like manuals,
so provide extra copies of all the manuals for this teacher. Another
teacher may need handholding and will need more of your time. So be
it. This is what the job is all about. Grit your teeth and keep smiling!
When that one teacher you thought you could never reach comes to you
with a project their students created with technology, it will be worth
Rick. Beyond the Wall of Resistance: Unconventional Strategies that
Build Support for Change. Bard & Stephen. 1995
Joan. Dealing with Resisters Biggest Challenge for Staff Developers.
National Staff Development Council (NSDC).
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