Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A New School Year: The Next Iteration

I've been reflecting on my lack of reflecting lately. My last post was probably sometime in March, and I hate it when a purport be a blogger and don't post for months on end. Well in between now and then, I had some pretty heavy duty grad school writing to do. When I finished my dissertation, I think I was
done writing for a while. And it's summer: time for your brain to go into hibernation for a while anyway. (Case in point: I may or may not have gone through an extended period of binge-watching two seasons of "Teen Wolf" on Netflix)

But, that's not really a good enough excuse, even as intriguing as an MTV-produced teen romance/horror/comedy/soap opera might sound.  If nothing else, it's important for me to write just for my own internal processing. When I think (like now), I write. In the process, I work things out.

It was at our 1:1 Summer Symposium that I realized how important that blogging is. People were blogging, sharing, and putting everything out there on the web for others to comment on and think about. I personally get paralyzed by the idea that what I blog about must be PROFOUND, it must be IMPORTANT, and it must contribute TO THE FIELD. While we may think we don't have anything to say, others may benefit simply by knowing there's someone out there thinking about and experiencing the same things.

Yeah, I'm getting over the need to sound like I've got it all figured out. To paraphrase Socrates, the older you get, the less you realize that you really know. I just know that I want to write, to process, to reflect, to share. In doing that, even if it's just a paragraph or two from time to time, the sum total may somehow be profound and important. It's similar to my theory that the individual fortunes you get from fortune cookies may seem trivial, but if you were able to save all the fortunes you ever got over your lifetime and put all of them together, the purpose of your life would be revealed. But I digress.

Anyway, what I'm thinking about now is iteration. Google Evangelist Jamie Casap spoke at our symposium, and one of the many killer lines he has is: "Iteration is the new failure." That is, nothing is ever a failure. Instead, it's just a beta version of something better coming down the road. That's such an important message to students. It also resonates in the context of a 1:1 environment.

Let's face it: not everything we tried last year worked. But that doesn't mean we can't learn from those experiences, build on  them, improve them, and cycle through the process again. Education is really an iterative process: every lesson, every week, every unit, every year is another iteration of what we've done before.

We have learned so much from so many people and so many experiences, we now have a chance for another iteration of learning. Technology will be a part of the initial conditions that shape this year, as will a new evaluation system, a new instructional model (Charlotte Danielson), a new way of building curriculum (Common Core and Understanding by Design), and new iterations of our students.

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