CHANGEd 60-60-60: EXPERIMENTS AND EXPERIENCES
On March 9th, I started this experi(ence)ment by saying, “I have no idea what the two of us will play. And I won’t be able to tell you what it is until it happens.” Today, on May 8th, after 60+ consecutive days of what-ifs and riffs, I’m still not sure that I can say what it is but I can certainly share what all of this thinking and reflecting has meant to me, both personally and professionally.
Thinking about CHANGEd: What if we all tried something new for 30 days (or longer) and learned out loud? 60-60-60 #60 and reflecting…
In his short but powerful TED Talk, Matt Cutts advocates for us all to try something new for a month. Sharing what he’s learned from his own personal experiments and experiences, he highlights that we can all learn to make the days count, to appreciate the boost of confidence that a new habit brings, and to heighten our ability to persevere despite the ups and downs of life. In Bo’s #60 CHANGEd post, he also highlights just a few things he has learned and enjoyed in his 60-60-60 journey. As I think about my own progress and process over the course of the past two months, I can borrow from both Matt and Bo and use their themes as starting points for my reflections…
1. Making the Days Count: Sixty days is a long time. Consistent reflection over the course of two months around a certain theme pushed me in ways that I never imagined. Sure, a number of similar themes emerged. Only one word however — empathy — made an appearance two times in a title post. And as I reflect on CHANGEd 60-60-60, I see that the notion of empathy, especially as it relates to the design process, is having a larger and larger influence on who I am as an educator. There’s still so much that I want to learn about the design process, but I know that I must find ways to cultivate a more empathetic spirit in myself and in others as well. For that, I am motivated.
2. Building Confidence (Motivators and Blockers): At the outset, one of my goals was to learn to write more spontaneously and without as much fear of failure. Writing sixty posts and getting positive feedback from others on my thinking was inspiring. A half-baked blog post (of which there were many) was not considered failure…failure (in my mind) was not seeing this project to its completion. Convinced through Twitter that I had at least one reader (Bo, who was RTing my posts) was a “motivator” for me. Then, when Grant Lichtman began leaving comments on my posts, I knew that I had at least two readers. Normally, such pressure would have been a blocker, but Bo and Grant’s encouragement and what-if questioning only inspired me more. Like Bo, I saw that “learning-out-loud” caused me to double and triple my weekly readership which will only add to a more robust and diverse personal learning network. For that, I am proud.
3. Perseverance (Stick-To-It-Tive-Ness): I had a learning partner whose consistency kept me on track. Never did I think that Bo wouldn’t post and so even when I fell behind in my writing (sometimes days behind), I knew that quitting was not an option. Interestingly, some of my better posts (in my opinion) came when I was writing two or three in one evening. Those evenings, although mentally tiring, were often the nights when I felt most motivated and energized. Sticking to this project, which forced me to spend a significant time (on more than a few occasions) thinking and writing was a hidden gift. For that, I am grateful.
4. I’ve learned and enjoyed… It’s very difficult to catalog my learning and enjoyment in this one post. Even now as I go back and look through the titles of posts 1-30 and 31-60, I see a new pattern in my thinking or notice something different in my writing…just in the titles of the posts. Going through and re-reading each day will prove fruitful as I spend time this summer critiquing my own leadership and developing a personal vision for my work in a new role next school year.
Even this 60th post feels flat…my voice sounds one-dimensional…the topic a bit too navel-gazing. But, what I realize is that making this CHANGEd 60-60-60 music has been one of the more dynamic and enjoyable learning experiences that I have engaged in for quite some time.
And for that, I am inspired.
All in all, this CHANGEd 60-60-60 experi(ence)ment has helped me refine my vision of school in ways that I never thought possible. Never did I expect that this would happen during an incredibly overwhelming end of the school year. Obviously my definition will always be a working definition, but I am proud of where I stand today. So, on May 8th after 60+ days of thinking and reflecting, that I believe that school should be…
…a place where inquiry, imagination, ongoing assessment, reflection, and “what ifs” drive the experiences of adults and children at the school…people of integrity and resilience who honor and promote growth mindsets…programs which reach beyond school walls and into everyday life of the expanding global community.
And, in the words of my CHANGEd partner, so that we can conclude (for now) this musical play with a uniform sound but one which leaves room for possibly new riffs…
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?