Where the rubber hits the road

Secrets to organisational change …

No I’m not talking about a big corporate. I’m talking about a school.

When I worked in corporate communications, I saw how successful organisational change requires the CEO’s enthusiastic and visible ownership. Senior management walking the talk. Structures and systems in place to reward desired behavioural change.

But the crucial piece was changing the attitude and thus the behaviour of the front line. So there were many organisational restructures and staff changes, where people were “let go” because they didn’t fit whatever the the corporate culture was.

So if we apply similar concepts to the school yard, please tell me what to do.

All the big public education kahunas are on-side with my modest expectation that technological learning supports and training should be supplied as needed by teachers and schools to students, one of whom happens to have a physical disability and is my son.

From the CEO down, everyone says they agree with me. They comment kindly on my “extraordinarily articulate” examples and proposed solutions (amazing for a mere parent). I tell them it’s easy to write convincingly when your child’s life hangs in the balance. OK that’s a bit over the top. But I do have strong views about the role education and technology plays in enabling people with disability to make the most of their life.

So education senior managements gets it. They funded a report which recommends learning technology support and training. And they’ve funded the technology and teacher training. Too easy you’d think. But where the rubber hits the road – the school – well that’s a different story.

Relatively simple implementation of training recommendations and software installation still has not happened, 13 weeks after the school year started. My son is still being given ancient, badly photocopied handouts to work on, instead of EVERYTHING being on computer. He is still sitting in class watching the teacher do maths, without the necessary software to do it himself. By himself. Not with an aide scribing.

One teacher even reported that my son did not bring the “required equipment” to class. That would be his laptop (which is always in his class). Possibly she believes he should bring to her class a plastic covered exercise book which he can’t write in.

The latest incident was where a teacher couldn’t be bothered allowing my son to present his “talk” via a power point presentation he had laboriously typed with one finger for 3 hours. No amusing sound effects or images that say a million words or imaginative key points that enable my son to share himself with his classmates. Nope. Just sit in your wheelchair and read your talk to the class. Bet the class was enthralled.

One the education execs whom I totally respect phoned to tell me he was “incandescent with rage” at this latest educational setback inflicted on my son at his public school. He loved the powerpoint preso my son did. This education exec is blessed with imagination, empathy and a cool vocab. I wish he taught my son.

Why can’t all teachers be willing to use whatever it takes – such as basic computer software – to engage kids with learning? Why is education so monumentally boring? Or are we just very unlucky with some of his teachers and inadequate school organisation?

Organisational restructure, redundancy, “letting go” staff – now it means something real to me. My son’s education and self-esteem is being damaged by the attitudes of people who no longer care, and see no need to change their attitude or behaviour.

It’s time they were “let go”.


Filed under activevoice1

6 responses to “Where the rubber hits the road

  1. Words fail me.

    There is a teacher who should NOT be in employment.

  2. Pen

    Some teachers have no imagination. I don’t know what you can do about it.

    Your child obviously has an imagination, dedication and willingness to learn so he will recover from his bad teacher experience.

  3. That’s terrible. Was the teacher at least reprimanded, or instructed in the error of her thinking — not just by you, but by the “exec”? Do you think she can change her outlook?

    I’m so sorry this is happening to your son. It cheats his fellow students, too, as you pointed out, by denying them knowledge of him.

  4. You know I feel for teachers that are expected to come up with the answers all on their own, do all the work necessary to accommodate all by themselves because I see first hand that they ARE truly overworked.

    But when we as parents step in and step up, and provide them with the needed training, funding and ideas to help our children succeed, and to help THEM succeed, and they fail to rise to the occasion…well yep, they SHOULD be fired, because they are not doing their job. That part is simple.

    I have been through a similar headache with my child’s education.

    Many hugs!

  5. Pingback: The Good, The BADD and the . . . « Terrible Palsy

  6. Counterillusion

    I know this is a very old post, but after stumbling upon it in a Google search, I wanted to thank you. I’m 26, and became disabled by rheumatoid arthritis between college and grad school. First my hopes of going to medical school went out the window. Then I was told that the PhD program I was applying for couldn’t “reasonably” be adapted to my needs (primarily by spreading it out over more years and taking less at a time). I’d gotten close to giving up on my attempts to get into a much looser masters program, at least until I (hopefully) found a treatment that works, because I’ve had roadblocks thrown up every step of the way.

    Reading this post has helped me resolve to keep trying, too find someone at the school who can help me navigate the system and get the help I need, because there must be someone who understands that refusing to teach me because of my disability is wrong.

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