Thursday, May 22, 2014

Winding DOWN and Winding UP...

Robbie Ray. Detroit Tiger Pitcher.
Detroit Free Press, May 2014
I don’t really mean baseball (though it is the Tigers' great pitching and a post on Facebook that at first brought these words to mind). But rather, I mean “a this and a that,” or an “on one hand then the other,” or my own personal metaphor – the Yin and the Yang.
I often find myself thinking one thing, then immediately thinking of its opposite. Recently, my fellow classmates, along with confirmation from a visiting professor, donned me the “contrarian” of the class. They were not being insensitive or even critical. Instead, they were pointing out how I often concurrently consider an alternate view when presented with a new idea or possibility.

For as long as I can remember, I have always thought this way (for whatever reason) and came to self-understand and self-define this as a search for the line between the Yin and Yang. I don’t think this is fence-sitting or even avoiding making a decision. Instead, it feels more like wanting to consider as many possibilities as possible – and certainly, not ever just one. The movement towards the most far-flung idea from what has been proposed seems to me (anyway), to help make room for a gazillion other possibilities in-between.

It’s this “in-between” that fascinates me and draws my attention. Some might call this a search for “balance.” Others might call it finding the middle ground. Whatever it might be, as we enter the “winding down” phase of the “regular” school year, my thoughts cannot help but turn towards the “winding up” (the opposite of course!) of the coming year that is surely and undeniably to follow.
While this cycle of unwinding – only to wind back up again – emerges over and over again, perhaps really focusing on it and considering both the Yin and the Yang might help us better prepare for the future in proactive ways, especially as we endeavor to make the next phase even more enriching than the last for our students and ourselves. Here’s just a few things that come to mind:

1) Looking back and if given the chance, what one thing would you “do over”? What is the exact opposite of how that might look? Now, believe with all of your heart that you do have the chance for a do-over -- because of course you do! -- and start planning it for a special summer project.

2) Thinking of your groups of students and the challenge of a constantly changing population, what sort of things might capture the interest of both the newest and the most-veteran student, for a team-based learning experience? Perhaps put this question to the students themselves!

3) Search out the teammate who you think you are most different from and brainstorm all of the ways you might together implement a new teaching and learning experience for students or for staff. This could be within the same subject area or cross-curricular, or both. Encourage each other to consider the most opposite of what you each are thinking! Be sure to share your results with other teammates. How innovative and diverse might your results be?

I imagine there must be unlimited ways to use this play between the Yin and Yang as a method of unleashing creativity and discovery, within a context of sharing among and between ourselves, that must surely give way to innovation and infinite possibilities.
As we wind down the current school year and wind up to the next one, grab a colleague -- or two or three or more -- and give yourselves permission to think in extreme opposites. Then, have a blast in filling in the “in-between” as a way of co-creating new and exciting possibilities for the coming future.

Caring for Our Culture,