Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fighting for Day 1 . . . Every Day

You may have already read some articles and blogs about the letter to Amazon shareholders from Jeff Bezos in which he writes about Day 1. The letter begins with this:
 "Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?"
That's a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I've been reminding people that it's Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.
 "Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1."
He goes on to say that he is interested in how organizations can fend off Day 2.

How does that play in education? In the classroom? I've been thinking about that on and off for a while.

What if teachers came to school every day as though it were Day 1? What if they greeted their students with no preconceived ideas about their students' abilities? What if they approached their students' processes and capabilities of learning as full of potential?

That's not to say they should do a Groundhog Day and literally start over every day. Teachers need to be and will be mindful of the very real challenges of their students and because of their students. But a Day 1 mindset suggests more positivity.

George Couros asks if we'd want to be a student in our own classrooms and wonders what students say about their time in school. I can answer that for some students.

"The teacher is always sitting at his desk or in his chair looking at his phone when we come in."
"The teacher is checking her email or texting while we have our breakfast and doing our silent reading in the morning. It's almost as though she's just keeping us busy so she can do her own thing."
"The teacher yells at us to be quiet but why do we have to be quiet All The Time?"
"The teacher never listens when we try to tell him we didn't do something but he always blames whoever he thinks is misbehaving. He judges us."
"The teacher gets impatient when I ask questions because I don't understand. So I stopped asking questions and now she yells at me because I don't try."

It doesn't help that students have a massive number of testing days towards the end of the school year. It doesn't help that any work done after those testing days is mostly about keeping students busy because their grades are essentially locked in.
It doesn't help that everyone can sense that day-counting futility of the last two or three weeks.
It doesn't help that teachers are checking out and lose their tempers faster.
It doesn't help that districts too often don't provide the kind of classroom support--aides, coaches, resources--that teachers really need.
It doesn't help that too often parents aren't involved in meaningful ways.
It doesn't help that too often some parents simply can't be involved in meaningful ways.

There are a lot of factors working against teachers and students from Day 1. Even so, I can't help but wonder what would happen if teachers and students approached every school day with a sense of hope, possibility, and determination as though it were Day 1.

It's too late for this year school year, but maybe some teachers, parents, and students will take up the challenge to fight for Day 1 every day in the 2017-2018 school year.

No comments:

Post a Comment