The Tyranny of the Status Quo

If you are a teacher of the visually impaired, you are likely very busy. In addition to the actual teaching time required to instruct your student, you need to plan and tailor their lessons, coordinate with the school district and classroom teacher, attend administrative meetings, construct lesson-related teaching materials, meet with parents and other members of the student professional support team, and clean up afterwards. 

There simply isn’t enough time available to assure you are continually availing yourself of the best assisted learning technologies available – technologies that can create student learning and achievement breakthroughs. 

The New Student Arrives: 

Consider the situation where a new visually impaired student arrives in class.  

Preparations must be made to quickly accommodate that student’s learning needs. Student evaluations, classroom and teacher introductions, familiarization with the physical classroom, classroom rules about behavior and bio breaks, all come into play. Planning and student orientation loads the teacher’s day. 

In addition, learning equipment and tools need consideration – a computer, braille learning assisted tools and, perhaps a braille embosser/printer. Pulling one out of storage may reveal that it is in disrepair and needs replacement. This triggers an urgent request for procurement to replace it – or find someone to quickly test it out and set it up, so that learning can proceed. 

Here’s the Tyranny Trap. 

Because of the time pressure, if a new purchase is required, it is too easy for the teacher of the visually impaired to defer to, “Just buy what we bought the last time.”  

Moreover, the procurement or technical support teams within the school district may not understand the need to consider other suppliers or approaches, or what new alternatives there may be – even though those alternatives may actually be far superior in ease-of-use, versatility, reliability, support, capability – and offer paths to learning breakthroughs.  

The status quo is much easier – and that’s the trap. 

Here’s the point 

Every new purchase is an opportunity to improve student learning and teacher effectiveness.  

Yet this is also the moment when that opportunity is most vulnerable to falling victim to the status quo. This is where, “It’s too much of an effort to change”, can tragically trump, “It’s too valuable an opportunity to improve learning, to not change.” 

Every new purchase is an opportunity to improve student learning and teacher effectiveness.  

Avoiding the tyranny trap 

The only way to assure the trap is not sprung is to be prepared. Here are some steps to consider. 

  • Select and qualify solutions before the need is an emergency  

Have all your preparations, vetting, testing, and qualification criteria pre-determined so that when the opportunity arises, you and your tech support and procurement team can quickly “pull the trigger” to acquire the advanced capabilities already vetted. Students who learn quickly shouldn’t have the administrative brakes applied to their potential for learning. 

  • Aim high  

Select equipment capabilities beyond the current scope of needs of your visually impaired students. In some cases, you’ll find that equipment with greater capabilities and versatility are actually less expensive than traditional alternatives. 

  • Qualify suppliers who share your mission 

Suppliers whose primary concern is seeing that you and your student get the best most reliable equipment and support will add momentum to achieving your teaching goals. The right equipment capabilities stretch your power to create learning opportunities for your students. Some firms share that goal. It’s not all about the money – it’s about the mission to deliver learning. 

  • Don’t Wait 

Coalesce a (TVI-Tech Support-Procurement) team in your district. Make its primary objective the search, testing, and qualifying the most powerful learning tools and vendors possible – instead of waiting to do this when an urgent or emergency need arises.  

Read current comparative equipment selection charts published by independent third parties and share that information with the team. Avail yourself (and your team) of opportunities to survey the field at educator shows, and webinars for teaching the visually impaired. 

  • Continually qualify and re-qualify 

Do not allow any one vendor to become “welded in” as part of the status quo tyranny. Vendors must continually be objectively re-evaluated for their power to enable breakthrough learning. 

A Final Word: 

Opportunities to achieve life-altering learning breakthroughs for the visually impaired student don’t arise often. When they do, it’s incumbent on the teacher-tech support-procurement team to be prepared to respond. 

Allowing convenience, habit, laziness, or administrative gridlock to sacrifice the potential for learning breakthroughs on the altar of “status quo”, is a tragedy that must be continually challenged.  

Check back next month for how to select the right embosser for you!