Philosophy of Adaptation
How do I model and manage adaptation to change?
The above quote by Alan Watts captures my philosophy of adaptation to change. I plunge right into it and make the best of it. I try my best to learn new things because I can see that technology is forever changing the world and the classroom. I can’t teach the same way I learned. I need to find new ways to get information to the students, and technology is one increasingly important way. Many of the writers we have studied give suggestions for how to adapt but, for me, Fullan’s (2001) model provides the best guide for how to get out on the change dance floor, while helping to lead peers to join the dance, too.
Students are growing up on technology, and it is now a part of their everyday lives. When they come to school, often it is like going back to the Stone Age for them. They don’t have computers, but find themselves reading textbooks and not getting current information. I try to include as much technology as I can. We watch the news every day so students can relate to current events. I have started using Google classroom and am taking classes on how to integrate it more into my teaching. I try to learn new technology that I can bring into the classroom. I believe that we have to change with the technology because the students need to be ready for the future.
With these new technologies comes cost. Right now our school district is facing an excessive deficit of over $25 million. I am not sure of the exact amount but I know is it around there. They are having community talks right now about the programs and to hear what parents, teachers, and the community want for our schools. The biggest challenge that my coworkers and I am going to face is how to deal with fewer resources and maybe how to deal with more students in our classrooms. Right now we have technology, but that technology is quickly becoming outdated. We have some programs that only certain computers can run. Our computers have to be updated as much as they can be. It’s not hard to see that we are soon going to be asked to deal with big changes, and teachers’ and administrators’ skills in adapting will be put to the test.
These heavy changes are going to hit schools hard, especially poorer schools. Small villages like where my Mom is from in Twin Hills may have their schools shut down for not meeting new minimum enrollment. There’s talk about technology replacing teachers. Arnett (2013) writes, “There are some innovation and technology enthusiasts who claim that computer-based learning will soon replace teachers.” I think they may be doing this in some of the smaller schools soon. But, as Wright (2013) says, “Education is much more complex than that. It is about the trust and bond between a teacher and young person (and parents) that creates the environment where learning can occur and grow. Virtual learning simply cannot do that.” It is my belief that students still need guidance, instruction, and inspiration, and a computer will not be able to do that. Young people need a real teacher to be there with them and walk along with them on their path of learning. If I find myself working in a situation where that value starts to not be shared by the people around me, will I still be able to play a leadership role in change and adaptability? Getting used to a new computer program or other high-tech teaching method is one thing. Accepting big funding cuts and the impacts they might have on classroom pedagogy is another. This is why I think teachers’ ability to deal with change in Alaska in the coming years will be tested. Having a philosophy of adaptation based on the approaches to change we’ve been reading about this semester can help a teacher or administrator move more gracefully into whatever is to come.
Many people go through different emotions when they see change coming. According to Conner (2010), at a personal level, three types of energy are required to make adjustments in expectations:
Mental (to figure out what is happening and how to respond)
Emotional (to deal with various feelings like loss, anxiety, threat, relief, joy, optimism, etc.)
Physical (to accommodate the bodily implications of stress, excitement, etc.)
When people go through change, they often experience some of these types of energy. We all need someone to help us adjust to the change. So I not only try to adapt to change, but I have to be there to help others adapt, too. Recently, my mentee wasn’t comfortable with a new program we were working with. She is used to teaching without technology. I helped her go through that change and showed her how easy it was. My mentee needed my support, while the students didn’t really need help with the program, because they are already good with technology.
Looking at the chart above, in order to make change happen, you first must have moral purpose. Caring about those you work with, both students and fellow teachers, and wanting to make a positive difference in their lives is a moral purpose. You must understand change and have relationships with others to make change happen. I know I already have this. I get along with all of my coworkers at school and have good relationships with them. Fullan (2008) writes, “It is the interactions and relationships among people, not the people themselves, that makes the difference in an organizational success.” There also must be knowledge sharing and creation. For change to occur in a way that doesn’t set everyone back, it needs to be coherent. Fullan (2008) explains that “sharing of information creates a collaborative culture, which cycles back to more sharing.” In other words, in the process of collaborating with others to implement a change, people begin to make meaning of the change.
Adaptation theory, also known as survival theory or “survival of the fittest,” looks at an organism’s ability to adapt to changes in its environment and adjust accordingly over time (King, 2015). Sometimes I feel like that is how it is in school, especially with technology. If you get it, you will survive; if not, it will overcome you. I have learned to adapt to changing technologies. Staying ahead by constantly trying out new tools is the best way to keep new technology from overtaking you.
By starting Kahoot!, I integrated more technology into my classroom. Wang (2012) points to Malone’s “theory of intrinsically motivating instruction” and lists his three categories of activities that can help make things fun to learn: challenge (goals with uncertain outcomes); fantasy (captivating through intrinsic or extrinsic fantasy); and curiosity (sensor curiosity through graphics and sound, and cognitive curiosity where the player should solve something unsolved) (quoting Malone 1980). The Kahoot! GSRS was designed with these categories in mind: the challenge is to answer unknown questions and try to beat other players, the fantasy is to be part of a game show, and curiosity is provoked both through inviting graphics and audio as well as solving a cognitive puzzle (finding the correct answer and waiting to see if it is correct or not). Kahoot! is designed to be a multiplayer game where students compete to be at the top of the scoreboard (Wang, 2012).
Students are excited when using this program. Some even asked almost every day if we were going to play Kahoot!. I have expanded it and changed it to give different quizzes so students don’t get bored. My mentee also has noticed that the students are asking to play it and are excited about it.
I think my philosophy has made me not only a better teacher but a better learner. I look at change and, instead being afraid of it, I welcome it! I am ready and know the process of change. By incorporating Fullan’s model, I now can help my coworkers as they experience new changes that are about to happen, whether having to do with technology, budget cuts, or something else. I can be the crutch that they need to get them through and, once they get through, they will be fine. My philosophy may change over time, but one thing that won’t change is my determination to learn new things and bring them to my students so they can have a better future.
Arnett, T. (2013). Will computers replace teachers? Christensen Institute. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/will-computers-replace-teachers/
Conner, D. (2010). How People Learn to Adapt to Change. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.connerpartners.com/frameworks-and-processes/how-do-people-learn-to-adapt-to-change
Fullan, M. (2014). Leading in a Culture of Change. Somerset, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
King, S. (2015). What Is Adaptation Theory? Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.ehow.com/about_5105998_adaptation-theory.html
Wang, A. (2012). The Wear Out Effect of a Game-based Student Response System. Retrieved November 23, 2015, from http://www.idi.ntnu.no/~alfw/publications
Wright, P. (2013). Why new technologies could never replace great teaching. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/jun/20/technology-not-replace-teaching-learning