A Moon Shot is something which humanity can rally behind, can support for the greater good, and change the trajectory of lives. Kind of sounds like teaching.
Education of children matters globally.
When you think of President Kennedy’s call for the original Moon Shot you might remember America already perceived ourselves behind the Russians. Not only was America behind, but our president just set a goal leapfrogging over all kinds of different stages to this goal.
Should Education wait until students, schools, or teachers fail? Why not pre-empt the cycle?
Maybe we wait until we are very far behind. Only when we are far behind do we consider a radical approach. When one is far behind, a grand-scale approach is the more attractive choice to leap-frog back to the lead. Radical approaches are superior to incrementally improving because they have to be better in order to achieve the desired outcome.
In order to have a radical approach however, the current trajectory has to be identified as not the preferred approach, the current approach takes too long or does not offer enough change. And to come up with a new approach requires a perspective shift. What will be your perspective shift?
Are we far enough behind yet?
To change the trajectory of your school, your classroom, your career, our public K12 Education system we need look for opportunities to take a Moon Shot.
Career Moon Shot
Teachers are insulated to some extent; salaries and degrees are set out in advance for teachers. Most teachers are in the classroom based on their passion already. Yet, there could still be something you have always wanted to try or do in your classroom. It would take courage to skip over the preparations for the state testing coming up, do you have the confidence in yourself and your students to take the chance? Preparation for a test only provides a modest bump at best for standardized test scores, but to develop real problem solvers …
Teachers need to include education on failure as part of appropriate risk taking in pursuit of goals. You could be showing a student how to go after his/her first passion in life. Or you could remind them how to bubble and erase thoroughly.
What do you think your classroom, your students, need but do not have the time to try? Be bold enough to make time for them to try it. Carve the time out of things which are less necessary. You are the educational expert in the room, not just the standardized test facilitator.
There will be times when you fail. Expect that and be ready to talk your students through failure: how you feel, what you are going to do next. Because school has to be a safe place to learn these things and you are their teacher. How much can you fail – not if because you will fail – but how can each failure yield feedback to improve you, your school, your students? Teacher Genius Hour anyone?
Do not let the relative security of a teaching job lull you into not taking risks. Consider a why not moment in your career as soon as possible!
Classroom Moon Shot
I remind myself not to be so busy “knowing” and/or teaching what is impossible that I accidentally believe myself. Or worse yet, convince someone else. As a teacher it is not enough though just to not model limitations to students. I must also model what it is like to intelligently fail. Fail repeatedly and do so with grace.
By the time students reach middle school they are already carefully watching their grades, not to celebrate learning but to play defense against low grades which pull down grade point averages.
Students are primed for an epic comeback. But what payoff could entice them out of “scholarship watch?” Encouraging students to identify a passion while in school and actively helping them pursue it!
Teachers should offer an opportunity bursting with the possibility of changing a student’s life. For a chance like that a student might be tempted to ‘risk’ a grade.
What’s your Teaching Moon Shot?