Week 9 Reflection

How is mentoring adults different from teaching children?

I wanted to share with you my comment I made to Matthew because it sort of hit a nerve for me.  Matthew related that his mentee is not motivated to learn new tech and that he is up for retirement next year.

Your story of your mentee is sort of funny.  I think about some seasoned teachers ready to retire soon, and it’s interesting that they were probably pretty competent in their era of non-existent technology.  Let’s face it, the first Apple IIe’s I was able to use for classroom instruction years ago suck compared to technology currently being used.  So in the eyes of seasoned teachers, it is not worth using tech with their mindset of how technology used to be because it probably won’t be much better now.  But of course this is not true. I would gladly use current graphing technology and computing abilities of tech devices in my math classes because they are great “tools” in math education compared to pencil-paper calculations back in the day. In fact, I wish we would utilize more tech in math education, and abandon paper-pencil calculations altogether! You mention Canvas, and our district has Canvas as well.  In my humble opinion, it is a great learning management system, but for me specifically, unless you teach the same subjects year after year, the time commitment to create and use a Canvas course is not “time-effective”.  That’s a bad term, but I am trying to relate it something like “cost-effective”.  In our math department, of the 5 courses we teach yearly, maybe one of them we teach in successive years, but most of our classes are different.  Then you consider curriculum review and texts can change on you, so your course can look drastically different than the one you created.  It’s not worth it.  I love tech, but sometimes old school is the best way.  It would be awesome to have a central uniform curriculum for the whole state and we could use the same resources throughout, but apparently this is poor teaching practices and doesn’t give teachers “freedom” to do anything creative.  I guess I’m trying to defend your mentee a little, but I have seen many tech initiatives come and go over the years and unless you have staff truly willing to be motivated to use it, I don’t think anything we can do as a mentor can help that!

My last point is the key.  Motivation.  Without it, you will accomplish nothing.  With it, you can move mountains.  I hate professional development days we have each year.  It would be better for districts to have mentor programs in place to help teachers become better teachers.  I read something about “one and done”, and it rings true in all my years teaching.  You learn something great about tech, or technique in teaching, but after a day full of lecture about it, you don’t get to try to use this new idea, reflect on it and collaborate later with other staff to troubleshoot, modify, or celebrate successes.  It’s no wonder our education system changes little in decades.  There is no time to really learn about these new ideas, tech, and anything that can improve education.  They become fads, and flavors of the year.  Some of these ideas are great, but we need mentor programs to make sure they are successfully implemented.

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