Sunday, July 17, 2016

Success Depends on You

Just like that, #NTAC16 came to a close for New Tech Network schools across the country and in Australia. The week itself always brings great reflection on my role as a coach and the ways in which I will thought partner with Teachers, Directors, Superintendents, Academic Specialists in various schools. While every educator at NTAC had a different motive for attending (designing a project, creating scaffolding of process/ skills/ content, generating a school culture project to start the year, refining a technology roll-out plan, etc.), there are always underlying questions by these innovators of "Should I design my work to quality or should I just try to get it done before school starts?" As I enter into my sixth year as a School Development Coach with New Tech Network, I have to say... I don't like my choices. One is impossible without the other. 

As CrossFit's founder, aka "The WODfather", Greg Glassman, states:

"Can you learn to drive fast without wrecking? Can you learn to type fast without making errors? Can you shoot quickly without missing? Eventually, but not in the learning. One is impossible without the other. 
You will not learn to type fast without typing where you make a ton of errors and then work to reduce the errors at that speed. Then you go faster, and then again pull the errors back in, then go faster and pull the errors back in. You drive faster and faster and then you spin out in the infield or you hit the wall. 
If you are a race car driver and you have never spun out, gone out in the infield or never been in a wreck, you are not very good. If you are a typist and you have never made a mistake, you are very slow. In CrossFit, if your technique is perfect, your intensity is always low."
While we don't all participate in CrossFit, we do all strive to maintain a growth mindset. As Mr. Glassman refers to, if you're spending all of your time initially making sure every single aspect of your design work is "PERFECT," trying never to make a will always be a bit hesitant to "jump in"and implement or "launch" your design. The areas for improvement in your work are unavoidable consequences of development.

So, what are you waiting for?! This constant process of letting the scope of errors (as they relate to NTN, PBL, or education's characteristics for "quality") broaden, then reducing them without holding back on the timing for implementation is exactly the "threshold coaching" that I get excited to support educators with!

In PBL design, if you are able to develop an academically rigorous driving question (DQ) which necessitates application of learning in order to formulate a response, then I will tell you to hone in on the authenticity & adult connection of the question. Suppose with authenticity in place, the academic rigor and application of learning still look good: I will encourage you to go start designing & embedding the DQ into the Entry Event. And if it still looks good, I will encourage you to embed the same standards, skills, and authenticity into the rubric. "Faster, faster, faster!!!" Now the design may start to fall apart.

I don't want you to slow down or give up on the design yet. First, with that same mindset, I want you to fix the elements that weren't quite designed to "quality." What you need to do is continuously and constantly advance the margins at which your design ability falters. (If that's starting with just a rubric to assess "Knowledge & Thinking", great! Then we'll take a look at how "Written Communication" and/or "Agency" come into play!)

As NTN School Development Coaches, we will incessantly talk about "quality" design and implementation of whatever your work may be, but simultaneously, we want you to take risks... push forward... implement your work at the threshold which you're currently operating. Above all things, we always want you asking, "HOW CAN I IMPROVE!?" and "WHAT'S NEXT FOR ME AND MY DEVELOPMENT?!"  If you only take your new learnings or the inspirations you had at NTAC and design ONLY to that capacity, you will never feel safe in trying to implement. My job is to help think your way through to that next threshold. Your job is to be openminded enough to realize there's another threshold out there with your name on it.

Peace, love, and "no reps,"


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