One action leads to another action, so physical disruption paves the way for mental disruption. Anyone who starts to really see what is supposed to happen (or how he or she is supposed to make something happen) knows: Disruption is clearly necessary.
On the drive to work this morning I worked myself into a minor fury, a small fit of indignation at what I considered to be menial tasks–little things that were only going to get in the way of my giant ideas. Luckily not long after I reached the peak of my rant, I came back down the other side of the mountain. I completed the stuff I didn’t want to do, morning job stuff, and at lunchtime I traveled east about twenty miles and had my mind blown.
My PD session was simple enough–more of an information session or an update, really– but the introductory presenter casually mentioned that Oculus Rift had been introduced into some Arkansan schools, and time sort of froze for a minute. I looked around the small room in which twenty of us were seated, and nobody else seemed to respond to that. The presenter continued, discussing early-release virtual learning software. At that point, I took the pen from behind my ear and closed my laptop to really give my attention to what exactly was going on. It occurred to me, in a very clear fashion, what was being communicated: there is a substantial amount of resources down here. Ridiculous. And some people know this, and some people don’t. I started trying to frame this new understanding, and something deep in my brain came to life regarding my current industry. I’m not going to lament numbers. I don’t care about free and reduced lunch. I don’t care about attendance. I don’t care about test scores. I have ammunition. For the first time in more than ten years, I have actual ammunition on this side of the fence. Lesson plans are gone for me, unit plans are gone for me, and curriculum mapping is just a resource for the teachers I am trying to help. Learning itself is now the big picture, and I get to facilitate it.
Literacy is not just for English teachers. Literacy is a specific term, but literacy is part of the fundamental understanding we have about a subject. Financial literacy. Political literacy (looking at you, angry Facebook posters). Psychological literacy. Investment literacy. Communicative. Intrapersonal. Digital. You get it. Literacy is everywhere, and we don’t know what to call it. In high school, literacy is often limited to reading and performance: decoding and comprehension and test scores, but it is oh so much more.
Grad school was my best disruption. “What do you want to learn?” is a simple question, but it was posed to me sincerely, and now it is my driving question. In my new office, it will be an interrogative sign and a mission statement, displayed right next to a weekly calendar showing my whereabouts. (Now that I am not in the classroom spending all of my time managing behavior and scheming how to reinvent the wheel, people think I’m employed in creative. I am okay with this.) I am not built to rinse-repeat. I really never have been.
Here is the beginning of the grand work reframing. Here is the mental disruption for which I wasn’t looking, but what found me instead: I want to help people read and write more effectively, and I want to do the same thing for myself. Learning doesn’t end. So, so simple. It’s a throwback to the beginning of why I even considered being a “teacher,” which I never truly was. I am a dreamer first, followed closely by being a communicator. The other roles just link up to those primaries at intervals, and they are always fluctuating. A pension is nonsense. Retirement from doing the same thing for three decades is nonsense. People are innovating every day, and whether or not we seek it out and embrace it is completely up to us.
Disruption: Mental, work edition activated.