Do you remember what it is like to sit in complete wonder? Like a child, the world around you is redefined in split second of mind bending fascination.
Wonder like that seems to have been replaced with a wonder of how bad things are. Questioning if the events and experiences around us will ever get better, back to the way they were.
If we were to define wonder in 2020, it wouldn't be that of a child's excitement and awe, but an overwhelming sadness and anxiety filled feeling of loss. It is a feeling so overwhelming, that the default is to become indifferent about what is happening around us.
As a teacher, there are even more challenges that are happening in the classroom. Online teachers are limited with resources, experience, training. Concurrent teachers are doing an almost impossible task of balancing students in the live classroom and in a zoom. A school day is becoming less and less like a place of learning and more like a large checklist that has to be completed each day.
The quote says "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results."-Rita Mae Brown
This insanity has grown and created a callus of indifference that is getting tough and tougher to break through.
Indifference tempts the wonder to fade away, but it is wonder that is the only thing that can unlock the indifference in our teachers and students.
The definition of learning is roughly "knowledge acquired through experience".
Creating wonder is not experience built on powerpoints. Nor is it related to how many worksheet pages your 3rd grade student can complete in a day.
Creating the wonder worthy of unlocking the indifference is curious. It is inquisitive. The freedom to wonder like this can only be fostered in an environment of freedom, excitement, and curiosity.
How do we unlock wonder? We must create.
In creating, we will make mistakes.
In making mistakes, we will learn.
In learning we will start to wonder.
In wondering, we will unlock the indifference, shedding the callus skin like butterfly drops it's cocoon.
We are experiencing a challenge, and each one of us has the choice to embrace wonder or lay down to indifference.
I have come to enjoy assembling furniture
especially from Ikea!
Who needs written directions that tell you the description of each little screw or dowell that you use! Pictures say 1000 words, though for many Ikea's pictures say about 17.
Recently, we transitioned our girls into new loft beds and when the haul of boxes came from IKEA, my wife and I dove into the challenge. Furniture is easy, line up the holes, tighten the screws, and you have a new piece of functional furniture!
However, this time around we were working with metal from IKEA and that made all the difference. I kept seeing this image on the instructions.
Here's my translation: "Don't tighten the screw, it would be bad and make things a lot harder when you get to the end of this build. Whatever you do...DON'T. TIGHTEN. the SCREW.
Being a student of IKEA I followed said directions and the process of building a bed that many complained about on social media came together. There were points of taking pieces apart, looking at the directions over again, but the consistent message came through the entire build. Don't tighten the screws.
Finally the time came when the instructions showed an image sharing the good news. It was time to tighten the screws! (To clarify, no I did not use the allen wrench provided...my power drill worked wonders!)
As I was finishing up the first bed (because go big or go home, let's get two!) I realized how this process is an illustration of so many teachers that I work with. So often, the screws are made tight right away, not allowing for the flexibility needed to build the structure higher and stronger. Ideas quickly set into opinions and there isn't an opportunity to take 2 steps back, re-evaluate, and come up with a better plan.
All in all I think about my experience with the furniture as a reminder that in everything that I do (work, family, fun) there has to be a flexibility so that the structure I am working with can grow.
Can you just picture it?
The table is being set, the symphony of smells float through the house as breads, turkey, cassaroles, and pie are all being prepared.
The guest list is running through your head as you pull the folding chairs and folding table out of the garage. Do we have enough seats?
Adults table, kids table, all set... Do you have the setting for COVID?
As students and teachers finish out this incredible leg of the 2020-2021 school year, think about this...
Those schools and classrooms that have been face to face are sending their students and faculty home with all of the resources needed to start back remote.
Prepare for the worst, be surprised for the best.
The dichotomy of decisions that have had to been made this school year so far is incredible. Differing opinions on the science and effects of COVID in determining the school and economic impacts.
Teachers are much more savvy at technology than they were at this time last year.
Students have had a harder time because they are learning in concert with their teachers. Not many have experienced this learning before.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we have and get excited about what is to come. A break from the normal to celebrate those around us that are the most special.
As leaders, classroom, school, business, church, etc. how are you preparing those you serve for success? Just because COVID is the houseguest that doesn't want to leave, doesn't mean that we are not able to empower our people to do more. Simply because holidays are happening, doesn't mean we can shut down our thinking and go back to the muscle memory of the past. December is going to bring some more change. Are you preparing for it?
Mark Batterson wrote in his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, "No adversity equals no opportunity." Think of the opportunities that have come. What about those that have not been created yet? As a leader, it is your job to be the head of the wave, thinking through what will come next, even if it comes during a time of rest.
Ultimately, we need to give thanks, communicate, dream, and cast visions. Not a vision of life without Covid, but a scenario where we can all thrive in the environment that COVID has introduced to us.
Be thankful for the opportunity to grow! What are you going to create and attempt during this holiday season that will set up 2021 for something greater than we have ever seen?
Be safe. Stay distant. Stay healthy.
Let's pretend for a minute that we are getting ready...
it could be a sport, presentation, meal, conversation, breakup, trip, drive.
We all have different processes that we go through to get ready for the "game".
When I was playing basketball, there was a phrase my coach would yell over us. It wasn't during the beginning to get us pumped up, or at the end when we were headed to the locker room. The coach would always choose the moment in practice when every one of us was doubled over, gassed tired from drills. Sweat would be flowing down my face, my shirt saturated, and I would hear
"Practice should and will always be harder than the game!"
Like a prophesy over each of us, a promise that he would share, our coach never let that phrase go. Because when the practice got harder, we were becoming better prepared for what was to come.
I think about coach when I think about 2020.
Could 2020 be practice for a game that is still coming? This practice has been tough in all areas of life. The question is are you using this practice to prepare for the game, or are you using it as an excuse to quit?
I had the opportunity to listen to Erwin Mcmanus at the Lead Positive conference and he shared this thought
“Will you be a victim of your environment or a creator of your future?”
This should be on every meme, gif and social media post around the world.
2020 isn't a dumpster fire! 2020 is meant to prepare us for something more!
If you look at 2020 as an opportunity for change, hope, and creation, everything changes.
Are you "forced" to work from home? What can you improve with your relationships at home?
Are you teaching remotely? How are you being the example of authentic learning to your students? Are you showing them moments of failure and how to persevere, think creatively and adapt into something more?
If we go off of my coaches logic, than 2020 is our opportunity to work harder and prepare more! What have you created this year that has changed the world? How have you brought positive energy into a dark time in our world's history? What dreams and inspirations have come to you that you would never have seen happen?
Mcmanus also said in his talk, "Crises are the destabilization of all the things that you think you need."
What has been broken that you realize you didn't need? How have you taken the challenge of this year and found an ability to thrive?
2020 isn't over. How are you practicing for what 2021 could bring?
Taylor currently serves as a Coordinator of Innovative Learning for a mid-sized school district in Texas. He is a speaker, writer, and coach for all who are in conflict with the status quo.