Monday, September 19, 2016

The Barge and Jet Ski of Education

Our district was fortunate enough to have Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook, come and talk to and work with our teachers today.  Any time I attend a conference or PD day like this, it is my goal to come away with one thing.  If I can come away with one thing that is going to have a positive impact on kids, it made the day or training worth attending. 

Matt shared many things, some of which I did not know existed (Gone Google Story Builder).  Earlier in his address, he talked about how change in education was like a barge that needs to change direction.  Once a barge gets going, it is very difficult and very time consuming to change its course.  I would say that is a perfect analogy for education as a whole.

But it was something he closed his keynote address with that really stuck with me.  He said the best part of teaching is that your classroom is like a jet ski.  Just as a jet ski can turn on a dime, so can you, whether you are a teacher or a principal.

I fall into this trap all too often.  I see the many things that are wrong with education as a whole and become frustrated when the "barge" takes too long to change course.  I needed to be reminded of this:

Control what I can control.

As educators, we still have a great amount of control over what happens in our classroom.  If we want to personalize and engage students in an innovative way, we can begin working on that tomorrow.  As a building principal I cannot lose sight of this.  I have a great deal of control over what happens in our school regardless of how slow a state or federal agency is.  I have the ability to share the great and innovative things that our kids get to experience in our school thanks to our staff members who are willing to be innovative and to take risks.  We share photos and videos on Facebook, we do a weekly video newsletter, we engage and inspire our kids on Instagram, all in addition to engaging them with learning experiences in school.  It is easy to become frustrated with education as a whole but we need to remember that we still have a great deal of control, and we are much more like a jet ski, than we are the barge when it comes to education.  

Ryan McLane is a principal in Ohio and co-author of Your School Rocks...So Tell People.

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