There are moments when you are leading learning that is really hard to also be a learner at the same time. The facilitator role requires a mental focus to see everything, feel the questions before they are asked, and prepare for the next couple of steps in the learning journey. There are also moments though when right in the heart of facilitating learning that something profound gets caught in between your ears that resonated well beyond the day of learning.
There have been a ton of metaphors thrown at the steps and actions needed to transform schools, but something about this idea of infection continues to swirl in my head. What would it take for the positive virus of school transformation to infect more school and spread quickly? It may come down to three areas.
The first is connections. Nothing spreads when people are in isolation. Teachers are too often quarantined, whether by design, by dictate, or by delinquency, and this leads to the slow transmission of the best ideas and resources. Isolation also slows the acceleration of idea mutation that could lead to an even greater solution for classrooms, schools, and districts. How do we support teachers moving out of isolation?
The second is contagion. Creating a high viral load among educators means that ideas and resources need to flow through a deep level of sharing. Only with a sharing community where the best things are shared across broad networks of teachers can the infection rate for schools reach pandemic levels. What can allow an acceleration of sharing across more educators in more spaces around the globe?
Finally, the conditions have to be right. Happy, healthy educators, those feeling good both physically and mentally, are in a much better position to consider making change. For too long, we have been asking stressed, tired, isolated, lonely, and disillusioned professionals to lean into the big, audacious, hairy change when nothing about these conditions lend themselves to success. How do we reset the conditions that we need for change?
Maybe looking for a new metaphor for change is a bit of putting lipstick on a pig, but words do matter, and the urgency of change is upon us. Let's find the right connections, contagions, and conditions to push forward our work to shift learning into the places that research, experience, and common sense tells us is right for kids.