Thursday, October 15, 2015

Step by Step

I've been going to school in one way or another for over 40 years now. I think there was one September in the past four decades where I didn't start school again, either as a student or a teacher. In the class or in front of it, I've tried hard to pay attention to what's going on.

One thing that's becoming clear to me after all this time is how each step in our work--each assignment, test, professional development session or evaluation--is only part of the long journey of learning. It's never just the task at hand, as if we're done with it and we got what we needed. Every one of them is an investment for something later. It's value can be missed without reflection during and after the work.

In my job I'm often helping teachers with technology. I realized at one point the ones who struggle the most with tech tools are the ones who think it is about the particular project we're doing. It's like when I'm helping them edit a video, they think the goal is to have a finished video. At first it can take way too long to make one video. Was it really worth three hours to get those 30 seconds?

And even after all that time it might turn out bad or the tech doesn't hold up for us. Maybe we couldn't finish it in time at all.

Of course the finished video is important. Not having a good one might have negative consequences. But in education, the trick is to remember there are at least a hundred other things going on for further learning (ours and our students').

In this example, when we realize the real goal is to develop digital literacy so that we can help hundreds of students over the course of our careers, suddenly a few setbacks and unmet expectations are not complete failures. Important lessons were learned. We took a step toward the real goal even if the task in the moment ended with some frustration.

Could we really imagine we'd inch along such an enormous, important journey with anything less than some periods of pure work?

And when we try, yet fail in the short term, it's not so bad when we realize it was at least a step in the larger journey. To not try was to only stay where we were. If that's not wrong in how it affects us, it certainly shortchanges the students we will teach.

To see these possibilities that lie before us, this endless road of repercussions, is both encouraging and overwhelming at times. It is a  journey that we'll never really complete. It's important to get as far along as possible, though, because it's the only way to catch a glimpse of what could be.

Just seeing it from afar, somewhat clearer today than yesterday, is a gift.

I'm doing a challenge this month to post on one of my blogs every day. It's in preparation for my conference session, The Way of the Google Drive. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or on either blog to keep up with the "thoughts and tools to inspire". 

Click here to see all the posts from this blog with the tag The Way of the Google Drive.

photo credit: Forest via photopin (license)

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