26 July 2010

Part II: On the Green-Eyed Monster, a Reflection from #Googlegti

We had several excellent presenters at the Google Geo Teachers Institute. Bette Manchester, one of those presenters, is the executive director of the Maine International Center for Digital Learning. During the course of the presentation, she discussed many of the successes Maine has had in implementing digital tools into the curriculum.

One of the things Bette mentioned was a reminder that when implementing technology tools or when trying new strategies, teachers often run into the Green-Eyed Monster. At its worst, the monster can destroy the efforts of the teacher who is trying to innovate.

The Harvard Education Letter published a piece about the effects of the Green-Eyed Monster on innovative teachers back in 2000. Of course this was, in Web 2.0 terms, written when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, but the points author Julie M. Wood makes are still relevant today. How do we know? Think about your own experience with trying out new strategies, or using new tech tools or even returning from a professional development workshop excited about the new things you want to try in the classroom. Have you ever run into a teacher who  'poo-pooed' your efforts? That's the Green-Eyed Monster.

A selection from a MiddleWeb thread on the topic is heart-breaking as teachers describe the difficulties they've had in trying to innovate AND share what they've done. Deborah's experience was particularly distressing:
Thank you for the tip on the Green-eyed monster. Even to admit that professional jealousy is lurking about the edges of one's career is a "showing offing" thought where I come from these days. Thanks for the tip. It was most clarifying.

My name is forbidden in certain classrooms at the high school where I teach. I have been removed from my English classroom and I have been told that I am too creative and too intelligent. Can a teacher be too intelligent?

-Deborah
 While my experience hasn't been as extreme as Deborah's, I find that I am very careful what I say and how I say things about what I'm trying to do in the classroom. Last spring, when I was going to "bring in" a college professor to do a short lecture on the geography of Central Asia, I told very few people at my site, but did invite one colleague to see the presentation and another teacher who works at another site. I also invited one of my assistant principals who is generally supportive of classroom innovation. I have not talked at my site about the fact that I am scheduled to get a Promethean board in time for the fall semester. Why? I'm worried that the Green-Eyed Monster will rear its ugly head.

Unfortunately, I don't have any solutions to this problem. It is something that we need to discuss openly. Education should be a collaborative effort and the Green-Eyed Monster will hinder our develop and our students' achievement.

photo from postbear on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License.