I live with a dinosaur. He is the best husband you could ever ask for, but dinosaur, nonetheless. He loves old things. He loves the challenge of fixing old things: old cars, old bikes, old motorcycles, old machines.
So you can imagine his love of my old Dell laptop. The thing has got to be 8 years old. He has replaced numerous parts, purchased new power cables, and frequently denies the machine a proper burial. It malfunctions on a regular basis. If you update anything on it, it completely locks up. But still, the man cannot let go of the machine. It’s old. When I mention purchasing a new one, my husband gets very sentimental. You can’t just throw away an old thing that has given you its electronic best. I think he thinks that as long as it still turns on, it is too good to throw over the balcony.
Yet I love my dinosaur. He values the old and the well made in an age where everything is being reinvented, in an age where our culture wants to dispose of anything good in favor of the next “new and improved” model.
So why are the dinosaurs I work with so difficult to work to be around?
Being one of the technology coaches at my school makes me face the work dinosaurs all too often. They are easily frustrated by change. They are angry when things don’t work. They show their teeth when you ask them to check their email. They growl when you ask them to create an account for a digital tool that will make their lives “easier”. They are ready to you tear you limb from limb with their giant talons if you ask them to take attendance electronically. They suck the life out of staff meetings with their constant complaints about changes they are not willing to make.
Are they great teachers? Of course they are. But their fear of not understanding how to work a new tool, their fear of failing in front of kids they know are better at technology than they are, the fear that their classroom will no longer resemble what they are used to, keeps them in a state of constant paralysis. And if a dinosaur is in paralysis…its just one step closer to extinction.
Adaptation not Extinction
My husband doesn’t fear change and maybe that is why he doesn’t fear extinction. He knows he is valued. His skills are needed, what he does is important. No digital tool can stick its hand inside the guts of an engine, adjust the pipes under the sink, or install new brake pads on the bike….yet. And when something new comes along, he doesn’t fear the consequences of how that tool might change his life. He might at first feel that the tool is not useful but he will try it again. He adapts.
The Key to the Dinosaur’s Heart
Value the dinosaur. Instead of being frustrated with my colleagues, I need to take the time to show them that I value them. In the fast paced life of school, this so rarely happens. I need to take some time to look around their classrooms and praise them for what only they can do. And remind them that although their world is changing at a rapid rate, what doesn’t change is their relationships with kids. They are a loved and cherished member of our staff because of the “people” things they do. The electronic tools in their classroom might switch things up a bit, but ultimately it is the relationship kids will remember.
How do you deal with the dinosaurs in your world? Any tips for making those we work with feel more valued?