Ever since I left Leadership High School to take on other adventures in education, a practice that I always carried with me is setting an essential questions, an inquiry based and research based question, for the years. I remember, Greg Peters, saying that schools are like a buffet and there two approaches to a buffet. One approach is to try everything out. When you try everything out, you tend to want to see the big picture. But when you try all the different foods and flavors out, a couple things happen. 1.) You get full too fast and there is no more room to savor other tastes. In education, if we take on too many things, we expend too much energy that we have no more room to give quality work to the mission and vision of the school. 2.) With too many flavors, our senses get over stimulated. There are flavors that might shock us and learning how to appreciate those flavors do take time to acclimate to. School have too many layers that are working. Learning one or a couple of these layers and getting good that them does take time. The other approach is to pick a couple foods preferably, foods that you never have tasted. Eating foods that you have never tasted is risky and uncomfortable at time. It might cause for some of us anxiety and others excitement. When you select a couple food you want to taste, you want to savor the flavor. In education, when you pick a couple things that are out of your comfort zone, you will go through a learning journey of highs and lows until you become an expert in that school layer.
When I started teaching, I wanted to try out everything as result, I burnt myself really fast and I didn’t have enough energy for my own classes. As the years went by, I thought about what was most important in the field of education and related back to my educational philosophy. Why did I get into education in the first place? How does my educational philosophy relate to the school’s mission and vision? After 10 years of teaching, I still do that. It’s a form of goal setting and when you know where you are going and the requirements it takes to get there, you can become a reflective practitioner. Setting an essential questions allows me to set a goals or a couple of goals for the year.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION FOR THE 2015-2016
Inquiry: How do I empower students with persistence and grit in the face of failure?
Leadership: How do I find courage to speak up about things that matter the most?
Personal: How do I enrich my life with different experiences so I can continue to personally and professionally grow and avoid learning plateaus?
I need to know my student well – there culture, strength, weaknesses, things that make them happy, things they turn them off to learning. When I’m aware of that, I will use that information to construct a learning experience that will allow them to be self sufficient learner hence empowered. (More details to come.)
This is part is really scary and uncomfortable. I am a quiet leader. I blog more than I talk and when I talk, I fear getting shut down. When I talk, sometimes things don’t make sense because in my mind, I am still processing. I have to write things out to process. There were many time where my ideas were shutdown. But somewhere inside me, when ideas are shutdown, I quietly push forward with my actions, find allies within the educational institution that have a similar thought processes, and pilot those ideas for ourselves and report back the implication back to our learning community. It takes courage and time to do that. But that is inquiry for you.
I know when I get into the work, I GET INTO THE WORK. I also understand how important it is for me not be mentally stale. The more experiences I have during the school year, the more I can bring those experiences into the classroom. Theater experiences stir my creative soul. Walking in nature and walking the city allows me to analyze. Quiet time allows me the process and synthesize. Reading adds capacity to try something new out. Youtube is full of crazy ideas and distractions. Finding humor helps me have fun doing my work.
I challenge you to set goals for yourself and see if you can reach them. Happy Teaching!!!