My wife Jennifer and I had been trying to “motivate” our 6-year old, Brayden, to learn to ride his bike without training wheels for some time. He was showing no interest in doing it. We knew the main reason for showing no interest was fear. He is a dare-devil…when he is in control of the situation. If he does not feel he has control he shies away from the challenge, using any excuse he can find. The more we tried the more defensive he became. He was upset because we were “pushing him” into something he didn’t want to do right now. It’s not that he didn’t want to learn to ride on two wheels, the pressure he was putting on himself to face the challenge and the pressure he felt from us were too much to overcome.
This summer we took a trip to visit family. We took the bikes along so our daughter, Alayna, could ride around while we were there. In the shadows Jen and I secretly plotted our next move for Brayden and his bicycle. We were bringing in the big guns now, setting forth a plan so devious we knew there was no chance for failure. We brought in…Grandpa!
Both of us knew we were a major part of the problem. Brayden needed someone to take the pressure off. Someone beside us had to get him started. We talked to Grandpa and he agreed to our plan. While we were gone one day Grandpa talked to Brayden and convinced him to just give it a try, talking about how much fun it is and telling Brayden about the bike rides they could take together. They spent about 15 minutes working that afternoon on riding without training wheels. When we came back Brayden was super excited about showing us what he had been doing. Now I was able to step in. We talked a bit about what he was doing and I was able to give him some tips on keeping his balance. We worked for about 15 minutes more that same day and then started at it again the next day. Before we knew it, he was a two-wheeling maniac! The smile on his face (and Grandpa’s…OK ours too) was priceless! In the next couple days we had a spill or two…a scraped knee and a bruise…but it didn’t take much to convince him to get back on and try again. By the time we left their house he was riding all around town. He could not wait to get back on the bike.
Does this scenario sound familiar? How many times have we run into this same situation with teachers and technology? They know it is what needs to be done. They understand the benefits. They see the motivation and advantages it can give their students. They are still hesitant to incorporate it, though, because of a fear of failure. They do not want to be embarrassed if something goes wrong. The more we push, as administrators or technology specialists, the greater the resistance in return. It is time to look for a different tactic. Find another mentor for those teachers. Let someone else open the door…just be ready to walk through it!