My determination to be more enabling rather than controlling has already gotten a severe workout, and the students haven’t even arrived for school yet. Already I’ve had one teacher request that we put in an Apple computer lab. We don’t support Apples in our district. I’ve had to deny other requests because they don’t meet with our district’s standards or policies. Most of these involved teachers putting something other than classroom-related materials on websites.
The clencher came on Friday. We did our initial training on the new media retrieval system at our newest school. From where I was sitting, and from comments afterwards, I wasn’t so sure things had gone well. In fact, I’m kind of glad that they didn’t have rotten tomatoes.
Change is tough. I expected some resistance to the fact that we aren’t putting TVs and DVDs in any of the classrooms, opting instead for LCD projectors and on-demand media. There were a few concerns along those lines. The ones that got me, though, were the outright complaints. One teacher (who had already complained to me about something during the Tech Boot Camp) complained that the screen was in the wrong place. One teacher complained that there was too much equipment to keep up with in the classroom. One complained that in addition to all of what we had provided, she didn’t have the one piece of equipment she had in her old school.
It just about burned me up – here we had provided just about everything imaginable in a state-of-the-art facility, and they still weren’t satisfied. Another of my colleagues expressed the same frustration. One of his teachers tended to start conversations with, "I hate to complain, but…" and then proceed with a list of things. My temptation was to ask these teachers, "Would you be able to teach your subject matter on Monday? Do you lack anything that you absolutely need? Then STFU." I obviously didn’t, as professional decorum requires, but it was tempting. I did tell my boss that for our next two schools I was going to provide them makers and flashlight and let it go at that.
This story, however, has a happier ending. Apparently all the squeaky wheels sought me out after the training, so all I got were the complaints. I spoke to someone else, and the majority of the teachers were very pleased with what they were provided. In fact, many had realized the quality of the sound systems in their rooms, and had plugged in music. By the end of the day, the school sounded like a massive party, as everyone experimented with their new equipment.