Working at summer camp was really what caused me to pursue a career in education. At Camp Sea Gull, Captain Lloyd used to explain the length of camp sessions this way:
When other camps are moving to two-week sessions, we are sticking with four-week sessions. You know why? It takes 21 days to form a habit. While our campers are with us, we want to guide them to form habits of taking better care of themselves, each other, and the world around them. It’ll take some time to break a few bad habits, and we have an extra few days to make sure the new cement dries.
For the past 62 days (I started at “0” and I wrote a “48.5”), through this “CHANGEd: What if…? 60-60-60” blog series, I have been building new habits. I am just one day short of repeating the 21-days-forms-a-habit rule for three consecutive cycles. Here are just a few of the things I have learned and enjoyed:
I crave the time to write each day. I wake up wanting to write. At about day 16, I wondered if I would make it for 60 days. At day 25, I knew I would make it.
I failed more times than I succeeded. I set out to write 60 posts…in 60 days…of 60 words each. I rarely achieved the 60-word goal, and that was part of the challenge for me. I failed repeatedly. And I learned everyday from the failure. I embrace that failure. I will be a better writer for that failure. I still feel very successful nevertheless.
By “learning out loud,” I connected with people whom I probably would have never met otherwise. During the 60-day challenge, I have doubled and tripled my average weekly readership, compared with the number of weekly readers before the series. Through those new readers, my PLN has grown, and I am the better for it.
Megan Howard helped me tremendously. She became my partner in this exper(ience)ment, as she called it. By getting in this boat with me, she made me feel more accountable… to at least one other person, and I did not want to let her down.
All day long, I now think of what if questions. I think I have developed and enhanced my Innovators DNA because of taking this on and building better habits of observing, questioning, experimenting, networking, practicing, and associating.
Won’t you try something new for 21 or 30 or 60 days? We ask our students to do so all the time. Shouldn’t we be students ourselves? Shouldn’t we be learning out loud? Shouldn’t we be building the habits that will make us better teachers and educators for the future? Better learners?
What if more of us worked to develop not just 20/20 vision, but “60-60-60 vision?” We educators should never think that we’ve got schooling as good as it can ever be. We should be seeing our current reality clearly, and we should be envisioning how we can get better. Isn’t such delta-oriented vision what it will take for education and schooling to be CHANGEd?
Would we ourselves enjoy the structure we employ, the instructional practice, the methodology, the routines and the repetitions? Do we really think that all of the students in our classes learn just like we did…like we do?
What if we also had to enroll in at least one more class – a class that is completely and utterly different than the one we teach? In that place of uncomfortableness, wouldn’t we learn how to reach more of our students…the ones who don’t think and learn just like we do?
Don’t we owe it to our young learners to put ourselves in our own classes, as well as in at least one more that stretches and perplexes us?
For over 15 years, I taught eighth graders the subject of economics. When alums return to school or write to me, do you know what they say they remember? The number one memory is “The Stock Market Game.” Second in the tally – creating resumes and business cards. Not one person has ever told me they remember any definitions, graphs, or theories. They remember what they created and crafted. They remember the parts that felt most “real life.” They remember what seemed most relevant when they finished college and called on applicable skill sets. What if we really reflected on what former students remember? Would we design our courses and classes to provide more of the memorable experiences?
If we administrators expect teachers to proactively respond to these big shifts for the futures of their students, mustn’t we do so ourselves?
Shouldn’t we be transforming faculty meetings (and other “PD”) into faculty doings? Shouldn’t we be experimenting with PBL with adults…and with projects that are relevant and meaningful to teachers? Are we even asking them what they want and need?
From the admin view, how can we make school more “teacher-centered” so that teachers can, in turn, make school more student-centered? Shouldn’t we admin be modeling “student voice and choice” by providing such to our faculties?
How are we un-silo-ing our schools to facilitate teachers working in teams?
How are we facilitating the construction of meaning among our faculties, instead of asking them to consume information? Do decisions feel top-down or bottom-up? Or inside-out? Or outside-in?
How are we admin employing and engaging learning networks and advocating for OPEN and SAFE and THOUGHTFUL use of such endless learning resources in the network…outside our school walls?
How are we crowd-sourcing our collective wisdom within our faculties and among our faculties from school to school? How are we refusing to re-invent the wheel and instead partnering with the crowds of other doing schools…I mean networks?
How are we refusing the high stakes testing of teachers and engaging high value demonstrations of professional practice?
A people strategy begins with EMPATHY. It moves along the stepping stones of the Golden Rule. A people strategy refuses to commit the fundamental attribution error (see the Heath Bros’ Switch).
Be the change you want to see in others! Show the way; don’t just tell the way. Blur the lines among “admin,” “teacher,” “student.” In fact, any of us should be all three. It’s not about the titles. It’s about learning…together.
Do educators really listen to the leaders of our national organizations? Shouldn’t we? As a member of an NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) school, I believe I should listen and respond to the leadership of Pat Bassett. Will you take 27 minutes to watch his talk about the Big Shifts for schools of the future? Isn’t it worth 27 minutes to understand more fully how our NAIS president believes schools must be disturbed and evolve to become relevant and effective schools of the future? And it’s not just for independent schools; it’s for all schools!
Oh, watching and listening is only a start. We should be inspired to DO. We should be inspired to ACT.