Attending and presenting at conferences leads to a lot discussions, critical thinking, and reflecting. I had the opportunity to attend several events this fall. During these events there was an under current (sometimes an over current if that is truly a thing). A lot of educators are still dealing with permission issues. They are being held back by personalities, policies, and colleagues. Yikes!
The reality is that we all deal with permission issues of some kind. Some people can’t paint their classrooms, others can’t access YouTube, and others must use the traditional grading system. In every organization their is a gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is responsible for innovation – either they are going to permit it, or they are going to thwart it. Plain and simple. Finding out who the gatekeeper is can be tough work. Working with the gatekeeper (once you find them) can be even more difficult. So what to do?
Here are 5 suggestions for those struggling with permission. Sometimes the gatekeepers just need to see an example:)
- Technology – Looking to get more devices to prepare your students for the 21st century and the district is out of money? Try Donors Choose. According to their website, Donors Choose has over 1.5 donors that have supported over 200,000 teachers that has reached over 13 million students. Before you start your Donors Choose, be sure that your district will support these devices.
- Feedback Beyond Grades – Are you frustrated with the traditional grading system? Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein have begun a movement “Teachers Throwing Out Grades.” They have written countless blog posts, organized Twitter chats, and a Facebook page all to support you in getting beyond traditional grading. Connect with them and they will be willing to help!
- Classroom Design – Want to re-design your classroom? Want to make a learning environment? Many districts have strict policies on painting and ordering materials. Instead of becoming frustrated, check out the work of Erin Klein. Erin has been helping teachers with classroom design by showing examples of her own classroom and others. There is a hashtag (ClassDesign)
- Discipline – Maybe you struggle with classroom management? Maybe you are looking for other ways to hold students accountable, or maybe you are not happy with your administration’s discipline philosophy. Pernille Ripp has written a few epic posts about classroom management. There are a growing number of apps that have helped teachers with maintaining their classroom with mixed reviews. Another suggestion would be to investigate Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or Discipline with Dignity.
- Social Media – This one is a biggie. I hear more about the struggles of educators with Social Media then anything else. Teachers report not being able to use Twitter, Facebook or even Google + in the classroom. There are countless resources for the gatekeeper in your organization to read, but the stories about the downsides seem to garner much more attention. My suggestion for this one is simple…. If you can’t use it at your school, you can always use it at home. Edutopia has a lot of great resources on this topic. Also, Corwin’s Connected Educator Series is a great resource for the hesitant administrator/educator. Eric Sheninger has worked tirelessly with gatekeepers to show them the value of Social Media in the school.
Change is tough. Getting permission is a reality we all face in some form or fashion. Sometimes asking forgiveness is easier, but that only works in some organizations. In whatever you do, be sure to start small. Ask questions and get meaningful discussions flowing. If you continue to hit the brick wall, find a group of educators outside your school to connect with for support.
Change is tough. Stay positive. Seek out support.