The F-Word

by Jean Tower

Why is it that so many educators have yet to really embrace leveraging the online world for teaching and learning? I think the f-word is an obstacle for many – FEAR.

Change can be daunting; it can be fear-inducing. But less so if you consider yourself (and others) to be works-in-progress, examples of the growth mindset of skills and abilities. Surely, as educators, we work with our students to help them to understand that their capabilities are not fixed, that effective effort and practice will increase their abilities. We tell them that just like athletes and musicians have to practice and try hard, so do they.

Educators would do well to remember that they are also not a fixed product with certain immutable “cans” and “cants” – educators are also on their own continuum of growth and change. The change process has five stages: awareness or precontemplation, interest or contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. If fear is keeping you in the awareness or contemplation stage, my advice is to embrace the change, run at it, be the buffalo, let go of the fear.

You can be afraid that others will read your words online and misinterpret them, or you can dare to share your thoughts, contributing to and learning from discussions about teaching and learning. You could be anxious that you won’t find any helpful information from your peers, or you can build your own online PLC, interacting using twitter, blogs, and other social networking tools. You can remain fearful that your students will be contacted by perverts online and will break the rules and will send “bad” emails, or you can teach them how to be contributing members of the online universe, good digital citizens.

Today’s students need all of our educators to get over the f-word.

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