By nature, I am a pessimistic skeptic. I am a glass-half-empty-because-it-is-cracked-and-leaking kind of person. But, if there's one thing I believe, it is that a person should, no must, be willing to adjust his or her beliefs when faced with new information.
Thus, though I was a TPEP skeptic at first, as I have learned more, my attitude has shifted.
Thus, though I was a PLC supporter at first, as I have learned more, my attitude has shifted.
I think resistance to a new acronym, doctrine, or mandate is healthy and important. The "new" must be vetted, examined, deconstructed, and challenged in order to become worthy of acceptance. The key there, though, is that if something new can be proved to have merit upon close and level-headed inspection, then it can and should be accepted.
Yet, it is staggering how much energy some people invest into resisting: resisting change, resisting what is new, and even resisting learning that might threaten or contradict their initial knee-jerk and not-fully-informed reaction to the "new."
Case in point: making copies.
In my building, we have three copy machines. My district also has a copy center at the district office where teachers can send projects to be produced at a lower cost. Copying in the building costs our building more money, and we, collectively, are something like 1.2 million copies (not dollars) over our budget, which results in overage charges from the company from whom we lease the machines. Thus, our building is hemorrhaging money through the copy machines.
So, we've been asked to seek ways to conserve paper usage, and on top of that, send more projects to the district copy center instead of using the in-house machines. Jobs can be sent electronically to the copy center (and usually are returned the next day...sometimes even the same day) or they can be sent in hard copy via intradistrict courier, for about a two-day turnaround.
But to some, nothing is simple.
To be fair, the majority of staff have responded and are making an effort by only making emergency copies in house when plans change and responsive teaching is necessary. However, a few read into the "use the copy center" request the sacrifice of their firstborn, and therefore are responding in kind. Example: the other day after school, I was in a crowded computer lab (students mostly) after being asked by a fellow teacher to help her understand how to submit a print job online. The procedure is simple: literally type "help" into internet explorer, click a button to select "copy request," drop your file in a folder, then give the details: number of copies needed, hole-punched or not, staples, double sided...the basics.
As I worked with this colleague, every step of guidance I offered to her was met with resistance. Based on her reactions to me, there was much she "didn't understand." She didn't understand why she needed to enter her name. She didn't understand why she had to click on the link to the copy-center. She didn't understand why she had to put the file into the copy-center's folder online. She didn't understand why the form had so many questions (Why is it asking me if I want envelopes? Why is it asking me what size of paper I want? Why is it asking me if I want it double sided?). To put it simple, she was throwing a temper tantrum because she was being asked to do something differently. If she stopped to actually think about the answers to each of those questions, it is really quite logical why she'd be asked these things. Further, these weren't essay questions. They were radio buttons she needed only to click "yes" or "no" or from no more than four mulitple-choice options. It was everything I could do to maintain a patient and professional tone of voice.
When finally she reached the bottom of the form, it asked her to select her location so that her copy request could be delivered to her. This was the last straw. She had been teaching in this district for six years, and they don't know where she teaches? This, she concluded, was ridiculous and therefore discredited the entire process (which by now had taken about twenty times longer than it would have had she invested as much energy into thinking as she did to resisting). The last straw having been added to the camel's back, she reached up and clicked the "X" in the corner of the screen, closing the browser. She slammed her chair in and stormed out of the room with "I'll just make the copies myself!" eliciting silent awkward stares from the dozen students working on their homework in the rest of the computer lab.
Had she clicked "submit" instead of the "X," she would have been finished and her copies would be waiting in her mailbox the next morning.
Skepticism is important. Resistance is necessary. But in our skepticism and resistance we must remember to think.
It is not weakness to accept new information even when we might disagree.
Nothing will change if we resist just for the sake of resistance.