In every interview I have been to for an Instructional Technology role, I have always had to answer some variation of this question: "How do you coach a resistant or disinterested teacher?" The very first time I encountered this question, I had a really stupid answer, something along the lines of, "Well you just have to make them interested!" Yea, brilliant answer Melanie! However, after not getting this job (big surprise!) I sat down, did some research, and really thought about this question and reflected on the teachers I had supported with technology in the past. Sure, you can overanalyze the type of resistance they are expressing (aggressive, passive-aggressive, passive) but does it really matter in the end? To me, the most important thing you have to have in order to start that conversation, is a relationship. You have to build trust and rapport with someone before they will be interested in what you have to say! Once you have this, there are a number of ways you can approach this conversation.
I would imagine that every teacher has that one unit or topic that they just love to teach, regardless of how much the students hate it! From personal experience, I have found that this tends to be the topic that is most teacher-centered!!! As a Chemistry teacher, my favorite content was chemical reactions and gas laws, which I am almost positive will cause a number of people reading this post to groan! I tried to push my passion onto my students, but alas, this became their least favorite content. I ended up adjusting my instruction to include more labs as well as showed them videos of extreme reactions, which is really when I saw their eyes light up! When they see it and talk about what is happening, it makes it so much easier for them to put it in writing and understand it.
So my personal preference when working with a resistant teacher is to talk with them about their favorite content and how they can make it more student-centered with technology. This empowers them with the content they love and inspires them to make it more fun, interesting and real-world applicable for their students! Throughout this process, it is important to have a shared vision for change, to make a plan for what and how to implement this change and to make sure that you don't leave this teacher stranded after your initial meeting. Follow up with them on a regular basis to see what support you can provide. Offer to be there when they are trying something new. Offer to co-teach the lesson. That continuous support not only helps them feel like you are in it together but holds you both accountable for following through! It is always my hope that these teachers will move from being "resistant" to being "resilient", as I explained in my previous post on individual digital resiliency. "Strive for progress, not perfection!"
Next post, I hope to share something new I am trying out with the opposite type of teacher, one eager to embrace both technology and change! Until we meet again!
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