A little over a year ago, I wrote about managing the second 500m of a crew race. Catch – send. Catch – send. There were moments that weren’t pretty, and work that I’m glad is done, but I made it through. I’m into the third 500m now, and it’s time for a power 10: 10 strokes as hard as I can pull.
It’s spring break. Campus is quiet, undergrads are off to Florida or Mexico, other grad students are working from home, and I’m in the office, frantically writing a first draft of my dissertation proposal. In two weeks, I need to have an executive summary for the Clark Seminar, which I’m honored to have been selected to. Next week, I’m off to another Carnegie Summit to present a poster about our PiPNIC work. So this week is it.
The third 500m is when you started to feel the send. You feel the glide of the boat under you, the water beside the boat smooths out, and there is a crisp snap against the oarlocks. The power 10 feels good: a sense of power, possibility, and strength.
I’m starting to see connections between what I thought was an interesting idea and the good work happening in schools. I use words like epistemology and distributed cognition and (at least I think) I know what they mean. I have definitely developed an appreciation for the time it takes to develop from an idea to a study.
Focus on the rhythm, keep the course, send each pull.
Warning: This post is going to be a little more nostalgic and personal than usual maybe because I just cleaned out a box of letters and pictures from my childhood, maybe because I saw a former student who has since moved abroad and we compared notes about international schools and sports trips, or maybe because it is the beginning of another school year. Whatever the motivation, this reflection is part of understanding who I am as an educator.
I began working on the report with the self study committee 2 years ago, and this past week we had our visiting team on campus for reaccreditation. As I’ve watched the whole process, I had a couple thoughts:
First, we received a commendation for how we did the self study, particularly for our use of technology. The tech infrastructure was my part of the team, so I was particularly proud of that. I’m planning to write up that piece in my portfolio.
I would like to be on a visiting team at some point, and I realized that it’s more than just walking around talking to people. You need to be a confident facilitator, whether that is knowing how to ask questions that probe deeper than what is already in the report; you need to be read to step in and redirect conversations that get tangential, circular, or personal; and you need to be prepared to diffuse potentially tense interactions amongst faculty or staff that you do not know or have a relationship with. I was particularly impressed with the two men who facilitated our middle school discussion and the questions that they asked.
One of the biggest realizations I came to in our middle school discussion was that, for the most part, people WANT feedback on their teaching. We want our colleagues to visit our classrooms. We are proud of the good work that we do and want to make it better. This is one of the reasons I love being in the Critical Friends Group with four of my colleagues. It gives us a place to get constructive feedback on units or projects. I reaffirmed for me the importance of this protocol.
I’m no longer on any committees or taskforces, which makes me a little sad, but there are other projects in the back of my mind that I’m ready to focus on!