It's the end of July and so much still remains unknown. Administrators and educators are continuing to work so hard to do what's best for learners while following the recommendations and limitations put in place because of our current circumstances. So much changes every day and it feels like we are all just trying to keep our heads above water.
As I meet with both teachers and administrators, I find myself coming back to two questions regardless of what we are considering. We might be talking about...
I could go on and on. The reality is that regardless of what we do right now, we should be considering sustainability. Intentionality will provide the opportunity to continue to use so much of what we are putting into place for years to come.
So, what two questions do I ask in every single planning meeting, professional learning experience, and conversation that I have with educators right now?
1. Is it manageable?
2. Is it meaningful?
Let's be honest, if what we are asking educators to do isn't manageable, it will not be sustainable and will result in frustration and an unwillingness to take risks and try new things in the future. As educators, we know that if what we putting into place isn't manageable, we will not continue to make it a priority. There is too much on the plate right now to not consider this as part of every single conversation that takes place regarding what learning looks like moving forward. I'm not suggesting that what is is put into place has to be easy. Instead, I am suggesting that there have to be supports and professional learning opportunities put into place that make whatever educators are being asked to do something that they are able to make happen. The response to this question requires action. If the answer is yes, then continue to the next question. If the answer is no, then it's important to consider what can be done to make it manageable. If there is no way for that to happen, then it's okay to pivot and develop a new idea or strategy.
Next, ask if what is being planned, considered, or implemented is going to be meaningful. One definition of meaningful is "having a serious, important, or useful quality or purpose". Let's be honest, if what is being put into place isn't going to be meaningful, it's a waste of time. Again, the response the this question requires action. If it is meaningful and you've already determined that it's manageable, go for it! However, if it's manageable and not meaningful, it will not have an impact and will end in everyone involved feeling defeated and unwilling to invest.
If whatever is being planned is both manageable AND meaningful, chances are that it will be sustainable. And it's that sustainability that will be necessary for the growing pains and adjustments that we are experiencing now to impact what learning will look like moving forward.
As an educator that is planning learning experiences for at-home and in-class learners or an administrator making decisions that will impact both educators and learners for years to come, these two questions MUST be brought to the table. In doing so, we are being intentional, considerate, and realistic about what is being put into place. Regardless of what happens in the Fall, if it's not manageable, educators can't be expected to continue to make it a reality for any length of time and if it's not meaningful, we can't expect it to have any type of impact on our learners.
My hope is that this will help with some of the planning conversations that are happening right now. Please know that I realize how difficult this must be and the hard work that so many are doing right now to make sense of this does not go unnoticed!