As a teacher, one of the most gratifying things in my day is watching a student take something I’ve taught them and run with it; taking whatever I’ve offered up and carrying it to another level. It never ceases to thrill me. Many times, the student will come back to me and teach me something they’ve discovered while playing with that knowledge.
With colleagues, it’s a bit different. It takes persuasion and some sleight of hand at times to get them to get on board with something new. I’ve learned over the years that when getting folks to try something new, less is more if I want them to “drink the Kool-Aid”, but sometimes my enthusiasm gets the better of me and I overload them.
Last year, I was working with a colleague on piloting Google Apps for Education for our school. I chose this particular teacher to work with for several reasons: we work well together, she had a unit that was a curricular fit with what we were to pilot, and she was NOT usually one of the first people to try new technology.
That may sound counter to conventional wisdom, but think about it… Early adopters are going to try it because it’s new, technophobes are not going to try it because their chalk works just fine thank you, which leaves those in the middle. I figured that this teacher would have many questions, a little trepidation, and would give me a sense of how the majority of our staff would approach this new technology.
In our debriefing after the first student lesson, I showed the teacher all kinds of tricks for organization because I was excited. Oops. I went home and thought, “I’ve blown it. I’ve overloaded her, I did too much at once and she’ll feel overwhelmed and not want to continue.”
The next morning, as soon as I arrived I saw my colleague coming toward me, laptop in hand. “LOOK! Look what I did last night! I love this! It’s so easy and now the kids are going to be better writers because I can help them right away! I already told the principal how awesome this is!”
At that moment, I honestly think I felt more excited than she did.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, folks won’t drink the Kool-Aid. The reason to not give up: sometimes they drink it all, go home and make more.