We model success for others. Great teachers model success for their students; principals for teachers; coaches for their athletes. Consultants are known for the models they bring, models that can be clear, helpful solutions, but also overly-simplified cookbook recipes that sound great but often just don’t fit all of us.
I was thinking about models yesterday as I prepared to chat with Jeff Wetzler and Tyler Thigpen, principals at Transcend Education. Many of us are trying to help design and implement school and learning models that better meet the conditions our students face today, and will face in the future. This is great work; I love it and applaud all of those who are in the process of model design and sharing.
But what about the raw materials of models? As we create the pieces and blueprints to hand to others, are we missing perhaps the most critical step in the process? What if the limiting factor in the school innovation equation is not the validity of those pieces and blueprints, but the availability of plastic and glue? As I refine the manuscript of my next book, I increasingly fear this is the case. Our young teachers are not prepared by schools of education to teach in deeper learning environments. Our more seasoned teachers have never had skills development in organizational and innovation leadership. We lack a pedagogy to teach and learn in virtual reality worlds. The pieces of the schools we design are built to slot into an outdated operating system. There are plenty more.
Look to your pool of resources, and ask this basic question: even if we have the best models, do we have the raw materials to put those pieces together and make them all work? This is not an either/or problem; we very much need both.
The answer to this question is no. Not beyond a few schools or networks here and there.