Recently, Kim sat at the kitchen table while her eleventh-grade son, Matthew, ate breakfast and chattered on about this and that. He landed on the topic of oral presentations in school and said, “Schools need to do more oral presentations. I think they don’t because kids really hate them, but I think they’re really important because everybody is going to need to speak to a group of people someday.” He went on to share his own timeline of experiences with oral presentations, starting from middle school where he had to do two oral presentations about which he was terrified and angry–and ending in eleventh grade–where he recently made an oral presentation with “no angst whatsoever” and he was “proud to say that I did a really great job.”
We’ve been thinking about the ways external parameters force us to push beyond the hard parts of learning something new. Since the beginning of this school year, we have been working on creating sets of lessons that show what a Who’s Doing the Work approach looks like in the classroom. The lessons have to be interconnected within and across the sets, the texts have to meet a host of parameters, the production schedule is rigorous, and the deadline is crazy tight! This work is different from our work to date in a number of ways, and it has been difficult for us both, conceptually and practically. The deadlines and our vision, however, have pushed us to reinvent our processes and our collaboration, and we are getting better and better at the hardest parts of the work.
As human beings, we have a tendency to resist the sludge and dredge of difficulty. In this New Year season, with goal setting fresh on many of our minds, what hard things will you undertake? What external accountability measures will you put in place to push yourself past the dip?
Wishing you a joyfully productive 2017, where you surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish.