It’s never too late to reflect

Learning doesn’t happen from an experience; learning happens when one reflects on experience.

It’s been weeks since I’ve returned from ASB-Unplugged and this is really the first opportunity I’ve had to capture some reflection.  One thing I haven’t quite figured out is how to create the space for all of us at Graded to share out learning that emerges from conferences.  And as a result, I probably owe an apology to those that may have found themselves stuck with me at the lunch table my first few days back. This, however, is a feeble attempt to begin to close the abyss. I owe it to you to share what I learned.

Although I felt like I got to explore a lot, I didn’t walk away inspired to try a new digital tool,  or to significantly alter structures of professional learning, or change expectations I have (we have) for relevant, engaging learning. I didn’t come away with a deeper understanding of technology’s role in learning or how I can better serve Graded in moving beyond where we are to where we can be. I think we’re on the right track to figuring out solutions to some complex issues.  My biggest take away is linked to  the concept of benchmarking and trust. I know. Odd.

I think we commonly  enter a learning community with a lens of comparing to see where we stand in relation to what others are doing.  For those that know me, by nature I’m a bit of a case builder. I land on an idea and filter information to support my conclusions. I’m really trying to grow beyond this instinct.  The first few hours of the conference, I found myself thinking… “well, we do that… many of our classrooms look like that… we have that in place…”  After a session with Scott McLeod (click here to see our workshop resources) I began to grapple with a whole new idea. In an almost passing remark, he noted the importance of benchmarking not to organizations that match or extend our reach to excellence, but to benchmark to the organization we WANT to be – and that may mean not having another, specific program to benchmark against or measurement tools to evaluate what is valuable to our school at the ready. This may mean we need to benchmark to an ideal.   This is a much more ambiguous, daunting task than, for example,  identifying other international programs that are doing a “good job” and delivering graduates to the doors of ivy leagues.

Beginning in mere days, we will begin our accreditation process by first examining our mission and projecting a direction for our school.  We will use the outcome  to evaluate where we stand and build steps to become the school we want and can be. Admittedly, I’m curious to see where we land as a community. How aligned are we presently to a shared vision of schooling? Can we embrace a future we cannot define? Will we honestly question our assumptions and collectively commit to building a program that serves children well?

In my 20 months at Graded School, I continue to be surprised by the work. New questions continuously emerge and my learning curve remains steep (just the way I like it).  I trust that if we engage in the process with integrity, we’ll land on the benchmarks that will help define Graded in the future.

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About Colleen

Senior Fellow at The Donnell-Kay Foundation Chief Learning Designer, ReSchool Colorado

Posted on March 15, 2012, in Instruction, Leadership, Professional Learning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “One thing I haven’t quite figured out is how to create the space for all of us at Graded to share out learning that emerges from conferences.”
    I have to admit I feel exactly the same way. I sent out an email with some links, readings and thoughts to a group of colleagues, but that was all the sharing I ended up doing.
    As to the Conference itself, I had to take some “alone time” one afternoon in Mumbai, and jotted down ideas, feelings, impressions, thoughts, but no synthesis emerged…
    I know where I stand on technology in my daily practice, but I do not know if my colleagues and I have a shared vision of the role of technology in improving students’ learning.
    Not to be gloomy – not at all – I just cannot help but think of Dickens… “This is the best of times, this is the worst of times.”

  2. For me that Mcleod session is also the one that stuck with me most… and what strikes me is how when we did that self evaluation… I kept on wondering what our faculty would have responded to those questions….I think fundamentally that one of our big roles is not to convince our faculty that we are innovative… but rather that we are NOT… and that to be a BOLD school, we are going to have to take risks, wrestle with discomfort and allow ourselves to fail without recrimination…. Still think we need to organize a share-out though!

  3. Thanks for extending the conversation over here. I enjoyed reading your post-conference reflections. Let me know how CASTLE and I can be of support – we’d be happy to host that needs assessment survey for your staff, for example.

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