As we wrap up another school year, I find this time bitter sweet. I am excited to send the students off armed with another year of knowledge, yet I am overwhelmed with thoughts about the year – what has occurred, what could have occurred and what will occur next year in my life as an educator. I try to look at things from the positive, focusing on the growth students, teachers and families have made in a year’s time, but there is the internal push to want to do things better for the next year and for the next people I will impact.
In recent conversations I have been pushed to think about things from different perspectives and to challenge myself in ways that I never thought possible. In these conversations, my mentor continually reminds me of the “Backward Brain Bicycle” video. If you haven’t seen it, check it out! Essentially Destin, the engineer in the video, has known how to ride a bicycle his whole life, but when a small change is made so that it functions backward, he is no longer able to ride the bike. It took his brain many attempts to overcome the challenges that appeared as very small changes. He tried strategy after strategy, got advice from others, and practiced until he finally succeeded. So to put it simply, the lessons he learned were that changes, no matter how small, can take a lot of time to overcome and implement into practice because our brains are wired deeply, and they want to jump back into well-known practices.
This video has so many parallels to education. As educators, we always start with the end goal, preparing our students to be future ready. In Destin’s case, his goal was to ride the backwards bicycle. Seems like a simple task. He began doing what he already knew about riding a bicycle using the same old practices and strategies that he has used for years hoping to get a different result. This reflection of Destin’s experience led to reflection about what is occurring in our schools and classrooms which eventually led me to wondering what kind of bicycle you are attempting to ride and what you are doing to overcome challenges to activate pathways for new opportunities. Destin reminds us that knowledge does not equal understanding and implementation, so it takes a lot more effort than just hearing or reading about new practices. It takes effort and retraining your brain. It takes TIME and PRACTICE.
As you are enjoying your break, take time to reflect and consider which one of these statements best fits you and your school? What changes are being made to your bicycle and how are you activating pathways to support your riders?
- We are using the same old strategies and practices again next year, hoping for better results.
- We are implementing more initiatives, strategies and resources hoping those will lead to different results.
- We are cutting costs, resources and people hoping to do more with less.
- We are embracing conceptual and functional changes to deliver a completely different model of learning to align with what our students need to be future ready.