Clinging onto control won’t get you nowhere

Success is not about being in control at all times; be it as the teacher in the classroom or elsewhere. Success is generally not something you achieve on your own; it depends on joint efforts and on being able to acknowledge one’s own shortcomings in certain arenas and seek assistance. This also applies to the teacher’s role in the classroom.

Beyer Log and Øgrim (2014) discuss the continuously evolving role of the teacher in light of the new digital school environment and related requirements and aims, and how teachers might feel uncertain and even threatened by students that are more digitally competent than themselves (pp. 108-109). Yielding a degree of control is a matter of trust, of being honest enough to recognize that at times others (including students) are more skilled in technical matters.

Of course, if a teacher is to implement a new solution in the classroom, she or he has to get acquainted with the basics; it never hurts to review the user manual and the FAQs in advance. But is it necessary to be an expert on all digital platforms in use in the classroom at all times? Of course not – there’s always help to be had. If you’re honest about your own skills, and there are digitally competent students in class who can contribute, one shouldn’t hesitate to employ them as assistants.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” (Steve Maraboli, “Life, the Truth and Being Free”).

The willingness to help and support one another is basically human (and should always be supported!), and involving the “IT wizards” will allow them to demonstrate their competence and shine in the classroom. There’s nothing to feel threatened about – the worst one can do is to present oneself as always being in control, as an “oracle”, as students will expose you faster than the speed of light. Yielding control in some areas is about empowering others, it’s about complementing each other and succeeding as a team.

In the game show “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”, one of the options available for contestants is to phone a friend. If  teachers are willing to place that call, it’s likely that they will find that they have many friends in the classroom – and without losing face.

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References
Beyer Log, I., & Øgrim, L. (2014). Wiki i klasserommet – læreren uten kontroll? In T. H. Giæver, M. Johannesen, & L. Øgrim (Eds.), Digital praksis i skolen (pp. 107-119). Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk.

Frankieleon. I’m kind of busy. Downloaded 14 March 2016. Online image. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/armydre2008/5542351756/

 

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3 thoughts on “Clinging onto control won’t get you nowhere

  1. “Making that call” enables teachers to relax faced with an ever changing amount of equipment, school set-ups and programs and it is an important attitude to embrace. On the other hand, I love being able to show the students something new as well and it does happen if I try to pick up ideas from collegues or attend seminars and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was certainly an interesting blogpost to read. The issue you bring up is one of great importance in Norwegian schools today. A large part of the older generation of teachers are used to being the boss in all aspects, so to speak. I’ve seen this during my own tenure as a pupil, as well as the schools I’ve been in during my teachers’ education. Many teachers perceive it a threat to not be as competent in certain areas as the pupils. They don’t necessarily have to be an expert in all subjects. They can accept that they are not very knowledgable in sports or gymnastics for instance. But they can logically conclude that this has to do with the fact that they are not a gymnastics teacher. However, when there are things within their field of work, like Information Technology is in any subject now, they are uncomfortable. They feel this is technically something they should be competent in, so they project this character that at all times has to hide his or her incapabilities so that their pride is not hurt in front of their students. As you excellently put it, the students see right through this fasade, so you might as well just embrace your shortcomings and turn it into something positive by involving the students in the process.

    I would say a lot of teachers are coming around on this issue though. Teacher’s nowadays are not supposed to be these flawless, authoritarian figures anymore, and that is a good thing, because no teacher can ever live up to such a role.

    Liked by 1 person

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