Blog Hop 3 in the Innovator’s Mindset series begins with some questions. Not just any questions. “What if…” questions. They are tricky. On the one hand, they allow us to suspend our current context and dream of what could be. On the other, they are sometimes followed with statements that perpetuate the barriers (real and perceived) that deter us from change.
In this case, the “What if…” questions ask us to think about what’s possible!
In the first stages of brainstorming, we come up with ideas that are bound by the constraints we have come to accept, even count on to give us a reason not to try something new. But in later stages of ideation, when we suspend our context, limitations and dogma, we come up with innovative, divergent and connected solutions. This is the mindset needed to think about what’s possible.
The “What if…” question we as a district have been thinking and talking about lately asks about everyone’s role as a learner.
What if school districts operated as if we should all be learners,
as opposed to students being the only learners?
Of course we are all learners. However, it’s one thing to say “I am a learner.” and it’s another thing altogether to live it. With titles, authority and responsibility, come an internal pressure to have the answers. To know. Trouble is, that doesn’t leave any room for modeling an open to learning stance. Our job is to learn, learn to help others learn. We can’t do that if we don’t see ourselves as learners, if we don’t see getting better for students as our primary role. Who doesn’t want to be better for kids? Who doesn’t want to be a better parent, teacher, principal, superintendent, director?
While revising the goals in our Board Learning Plan last year, we thought about who these goals were for.Who would be reading them? Would they see themselves in them? That prompted prefacing each statement with “If we as a community of learners…” which became “Our community of learners will have daily opportunities to…” In this way, students, staff and parents can find themselves in the goals and see themselves as learners. It also let’s people know we want to pursue these goals from the classroom to the boardroom. All of us.
We all know what we want for our students. We want them to be happy and connected, critical thinkers and unyielding learners. But seeing students as the only learners in a system is a serious perception problem. And, like so many things, sometimes it’s how you perceive a problem that is part of the problem.
Have a look at the “What ifs” of these learners: