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Adaptability Defined

March 2, 2010

The words “adaptable” and “adaptability” have become regular fixtures of my vocabulary lately.  When asked to define the word adaptability, Google lists the following responses…”the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances” and “maintains effectiveness in a changing environment.”  When we discuss the integration of technology into education we often discuss the adaptability of the tool.  Will this computer or that be more adaptable?  Is this software package more adaptable than this one to our changing needs?  Adaptability is important in hardware and software but it is even more important in another area…

More than the hardware or software, what must be adaptable above all else is the teacher and student.  Recently we have begun having important discussions with our faculty about our upcoming 1:1 initiative.  Faculty members have reacted to the news of this coming change in many different ways.  Some have welcomed the news and already begun making plans for how this will change the learning process in their classrooms.  Others are more cautious but intrigued at the possibilities this change will bring.  A third group is worried.  Some have been more vocal than others, but this group is very concerned.  They ask questions like “what are you expecting from us?”  “What will this do to my classroom?” and “What will we be required to do?”  Some are even looking for a sample lesson plan to show them what a lesson looks like in a 1:1 classroom.

What sets these groups apart is not technical skill or prior knowledge…it is adaptability.  An adaptable teacher knows that in education, as in life, two things are true… 1. the only constant is change and 2. thats okay!  Some teachers were successful in the classrooms of yesterday, some are successful in the classrooms of today…but an adaptable teacher will be successful in any situation, come what may.  They realize that by being adaptable, the situation becomes the only variable, success remains the constant.

In my humble opinion, much of what we call “21st century skills” can be boiled down to adaptability.  Above all else, our students need to be prepared for a changing world.  In a recent discussion with my wife, we discussed this concept as it relates to our own children.  It is our firm belief that above all other skills, talents, and interests, the most important characteristic we must instill and cultivate in them is adaptability, the ability to be effective in a constantly changing environment.

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