Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here's to the Trailblazers

Apple always does such a great job in creating an image for what they want their consumers to perceive themselves as.  They tug at our heartstrings, even if we have never used or want to use an Apple project.  This is one of my favorites, but now as I am in the first year of creating a new school from the ground up, it has come to resonate even more with me.  Although I think it should go beyond thinking different, but rather focus on blazing a trail.

The hardest part of this year has not been following the path trod by those who have started New Tech Network schools before, it has been in finding our own branch of that path.  For while New Tech has done a fantastic job in preparing us as a staff, giving us a solid foundation of professional development in the practice of PBl, it is the branches that divert from that path that we must travel as we work to make the Weidner School of Inquiry a reality.

The vision that we have is clear, we can all articulate it, explain it, inspire with it, and dream about it.  We know where we want to go, and what we want our students to look like when they graduate.  We have all the buzzwords, vocabulary, and jargon carefully memorized and categorized to be utilized for maximum impact with our students, our community, and ourselves.  The vision is the easy part, it is creating path to that destination that takes a very sophisticated kind of GPS.

It is figuring out what to do to get to that vision that is the challenge.  How do we create a culture that focuses on trust, respect, and responsibility and then nurture it throughout the year?  How do we help freshman mature and see the value in education?  How do we focus on the day to day grind, without losing site of the progress we have made?  How do we motivate the unmotivated, but more importantly get them to connect their learning not to a grade, but to the ideas themselves?  How do we give students a new pathway of learning, while realizing that the core skills of learning-reading, reflecting, questioning, discussing, and analyzing-have not changed since the days of Socrates, and it is these skills that most of our learners lack the most.  Where do we turn, when the path seems most tangled to find a new way forward?  How do we celebrate all that we have done, when there seems to be so much more to do?

So here is to Washington, who as President had the pressure of everything he did setting precedent for those who came after him.  To Lewis, Clark, and the mountain men, who not only saw the Rockies from a distance across the plains, but also forged a path through them that others could follow.  To Lindbergh and Earhart who saw the same oceans as Columbus, Magellan, and DeGama and a new way to cross them from above.  To the many men of NASA in the 1950s and 1960s, who not only saw the moon shining brightly each evening, but found a way to put a man on it's surface.  Here is to everyone who blazed a new path, traveled a new highway, or forged ahead on their own.  For while the joy comes in the journey, it is the strength to press onward that gets you there.

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