Are you a changer, contributer, or coaster?

Thanks Jeff Utecht for this thought provoking post as he remixed some of Gapingvoid’s work. Here’s a summary of what Jeff wrote:

  1. The “Changers” use their work as a platform to effect their world; make their school better for everyone involved – social position is not an issue – psychological condition is the issue.
  2. The “Contributors” are those who choose to do their jobs, do them well, and are rewarded. Change is not necessarily a need; it’s most important to do what works, and get it done. They locate who’s on the winning team and join that team.
  3. The “Coasters” are just that – show up and get paid. To them it’s just a job – life exists apart from work. Working is a palatable way to make a living.

In some of my former positions I would consider myself a coaster – especially some jobs … I think of working at the Silhouette Parlor in Disneyland. My only goal was to get through my shift; that way I could get paid and pay my bills. When it came to my coaching I would consider myself a contributer. It wasn’t within my conceptual view to try to change anything. I was trying to keep my head above water with a limited budget – I’m thinking specifically about my 3 years coaching volleyball at Stephen F. Austin. It took 2 of my 3 years just to make the cultural shift from Southern California to East Texas.

Click the picture to see the quote more clearly – author unknown

Currently I see myself as a changer. I am starting with my students – introducing them to the excitement generated by Web 2.0 tools and setting students free to be creative and learn to teach themselves. I’ve seen some fruit from the ETIP program that I ran for almost 3 years. Now, as the Elementary Education Program Coordinator I want to really shake things up – I want to change how my colleagues look at and use educational technology. Some are making great leaps … and huge shifts … I’m curious to see where the tipping point will be – where the entire program will be impacted with the most appropriate use of ed tech and Web 2.0 tools. I believe whole-heartedly that we need to be preparing future teachers to know how to integrate these technologies into their teaching.

So where are you? Are you where you want to be? How can you change?

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4 thoughts on “Are you a changer, contributer, or coaster?

  1. Nice reflection.

    We all can fit into these different categories at some point in our life, or in different aspects of our life now. I actually think it’s beneficial to know your roll in a given organization or within a group. I can’t imagine being a “changer” in everything that I do. I truly would burn out! Knowing where you fit in a given time, space, and organization is something we all need to learn….and teach. 🙂

  2. Where am I?
    I think at some point, everyone wants a coaster job. Something where they can just relax and not have to stress over details and management. This type of employment lets you have a life after work. There is no homework or additional tasks that must be completed before the start of the next day or next staff meeting, etc. This would be nice.
    However, I am at the contributer stage. I am helping my students learn using a mix of direct instruction and communication technologies. With the Ph.D, I will become a changer, creating online French courses that are interactive and help high school students fulfill their language and online course requirement.

    Am I where I want to be?
    I want to be finished with this degree. I am a bit behind due to financial and personal difficulties, but I am making it (slowly but surely).

    How can I change?
    I can put forth more of an effort in getting my KAMs done and start the dissertation process. More motivation, more dedication, more strategic planning.

    Thank you for an insightful post.
    It really got me thinking.

  3. In life, I believe that everyone has employed each of the three roles described—changer, contributor, and coaster—at some point in their lives. Therefore, I interpreted the question to mean not only have I played each of these roles, but also, why have I assumed these roles for different situations in my life? For example, in my role as a student, why were there some classes where I was satisfied being a “coaster” whereas in other classes, I wanted to be a “contributor” or even “changer”? The same question could be asked about careers—why was perfectly happy being a coaster when I worked various jobs at the mall but unsatisfied being only a contributor as a teacher? I suppose the answer lies in my sense of motivation. If we, as students, professionals, coaches, etc. are motivated to see change and to work to have a positive effect on the lives of others, then we will take the time and effort to work as “changers”.

    At this point in my career, I feel as if I am a “changer;” I want to find ways to assist the students in my classes to ensure their success throughout high school, not just in the classes they have with me. In order to make this happen, I have been working with my principal as well as collaborating efforts with other teachers at my school. Being a “changer” is no easy task; there is a great deal of outside time that must be spent working to make a difference for students in the school. However, I think it is worth it; as a teacher, it is part of my job to impact the lives of my students in a positive way. Though this is time-consuming, it is the best part of the job and is worth every minute.

  4. Dr. Toledo,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. This topic made me evaluate myself as a teacher, coach, and person in general. I definitely think that everyone has been a coaster at some point in their life. Whether it is side jobs or boring classes, I’m sure most people have felt they just need to make it through and do what is needed to get by. I know I approached some of my previous jobs that way!

    I am currently a volleyball and softball coach, and I feel as though I am a contributor in this aspect. I choose to coach; it is not forced upon me. I also choose to do it well (or at least try to) and am rewarded when my players play well as a team. I do not always think change is needed when coaching because what we are doing may be working. If we are winning and things are going great, we tend to continue down that path instead of making changes.

    As a teacher, I would like to say I am a changer. However, if I am to be truly honest, I would rate myself as a contributor. This is only my second year teaching so I often find myself just getting by. I try to make changes and add variety for my students, but I often find myself doing the things I know work. I do try my very best at my job and am definitely rewarded when I see students making progress. I am working towards becoming a changer, but for now I have settled in as a contributor. However, after reading this article I will continue to work hard and change my ways to become more of a changer in my profession!

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