Saturday, April 18, 2015

Crossing Paths with "Idea People"

I love a good idea. One that really makes you think, wonder, plan and try.

In the summer or on break, I find that my own ideas are abundant. My brain has time to reflect and ruminate. "What if we tried this?" "I wonder what would happen if we...?" "Oh, wouldn't it be cool if we..."

This time of year, things are a little more hectic. As much as I need a new idea for one thing or another, my brain space is occupied with minutiae - the 8th grade trip, getting ready for graduation, a conference with someone's parents, did I unplug the iron?. Not really the stuff of inspiration, I assure you.

This makes it difficult to wind out the school year on a strong footing. This time of year more than ever, students need new and innovative challenges to keep their minds from wandering to summer plans or other things teachers don't want to even contemplate.

The dilemma is clear - the adults are running out of steam and inspiration just when the students need the most careful planing and clear purpose. How can we all manage?

In walks Bob. Bob runs the EdTech firm that provides tech support and integration to my school. He has provided our school with a wonderful staff whom I frequently rely upon for help and ideas. But Bob is different. He's been in almost every independent school and he has seen it all. This alone makes him a fantastic resource.

On top of his years of exposure and experience, Bob likes to share. I have learned that all you need to do to get an idea from Bob is say hello, sit down and listen. He's an Idea Person and I assure you that talking to him will be worth your time. Yesterday alone, I walked away with three brilliant ideas that I can use this coming month to make our classroom more engaging and meaningful.

Being intentional about crossing paths with Idea People is important. Consider the following:

  • Who are your Idea People? Are they on Twitter? In your building?
  • How often do you seek them out? 
  • Are you willing to be experimental with their ideas and try them out for yourself? It isn't enough to just say "Wow. Cool idea. I wish that would work for my students."
The last question to consider is an important one. Are you an Idea Person for others? It is easy to feel self-conscious about our own ideas. I get that. In spades. However, what seems like everyday practice to you, might seem inspiring to another teacher. It is important to share what you do in your classroom - your successes, your set-backs, your ideas that you couldn't quite implement - with others. Not only will this make you an excellent resource for others, but it will help others become willing to share ideas with you.

When we all become Idea People who make it a point to cross paths on a regular basis, everyone wins. Teachers are better armed with purposeful and worthwhile activities for their students. Students are more engaged and challenged. And we can all feel a little more on-target and effective during this last, most difficult stretch of the school year.

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