Change is not always easy for me. Ok, it is never easy for me. I dread the unknown, funny since a major part of my job is to support changes in education. Every day I encourage educators to take a leap and blend their instruction, to sail into uncharted water, dive in, take a risk, change their way of thinking about learning. Don’t get me wrong, I know in my heart that change and growth is important, and frankly, necessary but it is uncomfortable.
So why change? Why put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable? What’s wrong with keeping things the way they are? These are questions we often ask ourselves when we are faced with change. A point made by a colleague recently has stuck with me, she said blended learning isn’t about throwing out the good things but making what is good even better. Innovative approaches to helping students, like blended learning, build on the successful practices teachers are already doing.
Blended learning isn’t about throwing out what is working in your classroom, but stretching thinking and growing opportunities. It isn’t about using the latest flashy tool or being told you have to blend your instruction because it is the latest fad. This change should be driven by a desire to push and expand learning, to better what works for some students and not others, to give all students a voice and chances to collaborate.
Blended Learning doesn’t have to consist of sweeping change, but small supports like giving students the opportunity to ask questions or share ideas in an online space. Opening up options for sharing understanding using mediums they feel comfortable with, creating videos or collaborating on a presentation with others outside the brick and mortar classroom are also entry points to blending learning. Small changes that support quality instruction and give students choice in their learning can have a big impact on student outcome.
Blended learning doesn’t happen overnight and yes, there will be times where things go off track– difficulties arise and technology fails. But there will also be times where the pieces fall into place and the ah ha moments materialize, when students blow all your expectations away because they have been given an opportunity to go beyond what is “good” and find their own voice, because they were given a choice in their learning. All because you as an educator made a change.
This is the part of the blog where I tell you I’ve taken my own advice and have embraced change with open arms, and it has always been amazing. Well not quite. Little by little I’m making changes to push myself and trying to expand on the familiar. I’m a work in progress when it comes to accepting change. Recently, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and leave my job as an Educational Technology Consultant to work with the Michigan Virtual team as a Blended-Learning Coach. I want to stretch my skills, learn from educators and administrators statewide and focus on blended instruction. This change was not easy, but in the end I took the leap. Looking back over the experiences of my first week I am confident in saying, change feels pretty good.