How to be professionally stagnant

Teachers, trainers and instructors are all under siege. There are ubiquitous pressures to adopt technologies in the classroom, to change pedagogies and relate better to the learners. If you choose to teach the way you were taught, none of this is acceptable or useful. Yet avoiding change is not enough. Professional development must be avoided at all cost. Concerted efforts must be made to maintain your own pride, confidence and comfort zone. Here are some guidelines to guard against getting changed.

Do not read blogs or write your own. If at all possible, stay away from conferences that deal with "how you teach". Distance yourselves from "tech support", "change consultant" and "curriculum advisor" types in your school district, university or corporate setting.

Face your students with fear. Imagine the worst that can happen. Picture the class being bored, out of control, unmotivated or whatever image sends you into a panic. Lower your brain function from "emotional intelligence" to a "limbic hijacking". Consider your "flight or fight" options while freezing like "a deer in headlights" as you react in favor of your tenuous survival.

Think through how you could be blamed. Consider unfounded criticisms, false accusations and outright guilt trips -- laid at your feet. Imagine people pointing their fingers at you, shooting down your good intentions and dismissing your valuable contributions. Anticipate who can make you look bad, question your integrity and expose your shortcomings in public. Develop a guarded demeanor around those threats.

Next develop a viable defense against getting blamed. There are two basic strategies to protect yourself from accusations. One is to blame yourself before anyone else can. This pre-emptive strategy makes it obvious to others that you will be devastated by put downs. You are already "on your own case so severely" that no one can expect you to handle anymore blame.

The other strategy has you become over-responsible to defend against blame. Simply overload your plate with too many obligations -- so that no one can fault you for willful negligence. Do everything possible to over-sell, over-commit and over-extend yourself. Make it obvious that you are already "bending over backwards" and cannot bend any further.

Finally learn to accept the consequences of: facing your learners with fear, anticipating getting blamed and defending yourself against accusations:

  1. Your fears will come true. A closed system will emerge with no escape from the apparent facts of life. Your students will appear to be enemies, class problems will seem real, and new technologies will be used to cheat.

  2. Expecting blame will get you blamed. Advocates of change will accuse you of obstructing progress. Advocates of technology utilization will demonize you for failing to adopt and integrate new tools. Advocates of learner empowerment will denigrate your insistence on your methods.

  3. Blaming yourself will eviscerate your initiative. You will feel too defeated, insecure and self-critical to contribute to team efforts. Your acting irresponsible will evoke the ire of those given to heroics. You will appear very worthy of getting blamed while you already blame yourself extensively.

  4. Acting over-responsible will make enemies without trying. Over-extending yourself will exhaust you everyday and lead to severe burnout. You will panic when anyone mentions "taking responsibility" since you've already gone overboard on that score. Your over-filled plate will drop balls and fall short of demanding expectations. You will get blamed for not being super-human.
If you do all this without hesitation, you will succeed at being professionally stagnant. No one will change you. No pressure will be able to manipulate your priorities or trick you into compliance. Your ability to guard against abuses will prove extremely reliable. You can remain the same as you have been.

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