Sunday, August 30, 2015

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

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As we finish week two, I feel like our ship is ready to jump to warp speed for the school year.  Only I am not sure that all of the supports are in place to allow for the jump.   I feel like Scotty in the Engine Room saying we need more power or the engines won't hold for warp speed (my sci-fi alter-ego).  And then I had the opportunity to talk to some of our new parents about what we do at Notre Dame.  This conversation--for which I was joined by my colleague Rebecca Girard, who among other things is our Ed Tech Instigator--reminded me of Carol Dweck's work and the idea of a Growth Mindset.  And suddenly, I was looking at the fact that the "ship" is ready to make the jump to warp speed (or FTL as it is known in the current sci-fi shows) without all the supports fully in place as my own opportunity to model Growth Mindset.  How perfect!

As educators we constantly are talking about the idea of FAIL = First Attempt in Learning, and that being Life Long Learners is the goal rather than regurgitating information for a test, and the need for authentic learning and authentic audiences and... You can fill in this litany with your own school language, motto, etc.  But how often do we as the adults fully model ALL that we talk about?  I know that I don't.  I am great at sharing my learning.  And I am always giving pep-talks to the students about taking risks and seeing what they can learn from the fails.  But publicly calling attention to my own fails?  Not very often at all.  So this recent conversation has allowed me to revisit the past two weeks through a different lens.

There are a number of projects in various states of "done".  This is certainly not the ideal because my office is a direct support to the teachers.  If I am not ensuring full support to them in the classroom, will they feel that I care?  That I deliver on what I say?  That the deadlines I impose matter?  My initial answer to all of those questions is a resounding "NO!"  I am frantic about meeting deadlines.  It is how I can show support to the teachers, right?  Well, perhaps not.  It is one way, but not the only way.

So, with five significant projects all still "in progress", I am going to hit the ground Monday with a new plan.  I am reassessing what the data tells me about the projects that aren't yet done.  I am going to have more conversations with those involved in completing the projects as well as those affected by the projects.  It might be that I have the priority list all wrong. There might be some road-blocks that haven't been shared with me affecting some of the projects.

If I don't ask, I won't know!  And with more information, I can do a number of things.  I can:
1. readjust my expectations
2. more clearly communicate with faculty, students, and parents
3. find new/different solutions to help move the projects along

All of this will be helpful, and it models the idea of iterating, responding to setbacks and adjusting.  Flexibility and  patience are challenging for me when I want to give the teachers what they want to do their jobs.  But these past two weeks are a reminder to me that I never stop learning and I need to continue to work on "walking the walk".

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts!