“I’ve got some skin in the game,” we might hear from a politician. Or a businessperson might say, “We give our workers stock options. That way they’ve got some ‘skin in the game’”. (Nic says: It translates as having a strategic person (skin) in a field of play (game) for those of us outside of the USA.)
What about educators? When do we have ‘skin in the game’? Look around your school. How many teachers do you see who are assessing students because it’s something they’ve just gotta do. The results will likely end up on a spreadsheet, in a folder, deep inside a file cabinet, in a locked room. Take another look. How many teachers are letting their students use Chromebooks to write stories only because their students twisted their arms to let them try out a new online tool? How many principals do you see using digital tools to track student progress in reading and math—only because the Superintendent of Schools insists that they do?
No skin in the game!
In each case, the impetus for trying out a new digital tool comes from outside forces, rather than from within. There is no personal stake in the endeavor. No ownership. Which means little motivation. Followed by little to gain or lose.
When we work with teachers on implementing innovations, we need to make sure they are stakeholders. We need to give them a reason to care about their investment. Paint a picture of why they should spend the time and effort—whether it’s in taking on one of Nic’s Dare Devil Missions (see our next post or read it in the book!) teaching kids how to illustrate their stories with digital art tools, or record student interviews with each other.
What can you do to up the ante for everyone you teach with?
· Help each educator feel that he/she has a stake in the student-learning outcome of a particular innovation.
· Motivate students by showing them that they can have a strong impact on their own success through practice, hard work, and taking risks in their learning.
· Remind parents that their involvement in their children’s learning will have profound implications for years to come.
If we all feel invested in creating innovative, 21st Century schools, if people at all levels have skin in the game, then the odds are strong that we can make powerful changes that will greatly improve teaching and learning.
What have you found to be true? How do you get your colleagues interested in innovation and change? We want to hear from you!
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.