Frustration Felt by Some

The last time I went on a small rant was back in April of 2015, at this time I need to vent again.

21st-century skills (in my district they’re called competencies) are those abilities which students should be learning to prepare themselves for entering the world or some elevator pitch like that.

Actually, don’t get me wrong, I believe in these skills, I support these skills, and feel they are skills everyone needs. For instance, ‘Being a Self-directed Learner’ is demonstrated by being actively engaged, prepared, organized, and focused; taking ownership of your learning; contributing to the learning environment; persevering in the face of challenges; just to name a few ways of acting in a self-directed manner.

As an educator, I need to instill this behavior in students and the best methodology to teach a behavior, is by modeling it. Inside a classroom, it can be easy to model simple behaviors like while reading aloud, stop at an unknown word and look it up. Your students will then see when they encounter a new term or struggle with a word, they should seek out a definition to learn its meaning.

As a technology coach, I struggle to see self-directed teachers. Too often I get asked ‘Google-able’ questions. When a tech tool gets an update, there is no applying of prior knowledge to navigate the “new dashboard.” The most recent experience of this happened when a teacher came to me in a panic. At the beginning of the school year, we introduced a new setting with our projectors. Now, a teacher could choose to display either ‘mirrored’ or ‘extended desktop’. I prepared directions (.pdf shared via Drive) on how to switch and even went to team meetings to follow up.

On this particular day, the teacher returned to their classroom after another teacher had instructed in there the period before. The previous teacher must have connected their computer and set the projector to ‘extended desktop’. When they went to project a presentation, nothing but a blue display appeared on the board. Hence the panic. I went to their room, assessed the situation, and switched the display back to ‘mirrored’. The statement which followed is the essence of this post.

“I thought that was the issue. I guess I should have tried that before getting you.”

[Smacks head] How do we move our colleagues in a direction to become self-directed? This is a question that baffles me. I asked a teacher once, on a different issue, ‘Why didn’t you Google that?’ The response, something to the effect of, “you wouldn’t have a position” or “that’s your job.”

So, I put this out there, how does someone facilitate becoming self-directed?

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