Sunday, January 13, 2008

Waking Up In Tomorrow

Did you ever see the movie, Groundhog Day? You may remember it – an early ‘90s film. Every morning the curmudgeonly hero (Bill Murray) kept waking up in the same day. And he had to keep reliving that same day over and over because he never got it right.

Sometimes I think we’re trapped in that movie as educators. Our days are unfolding in exactly the same way over and over again. Our schools operate the way they’ve operated for decades. For the most part, teachers still operate as isolated instructors with little or no time for professional growth built into the school day. When teachers do meet in teams for professional learning, it’s often something that’s added to their current, overflowing list of responsibilities – many of which don’t directly relate to teaching and learning.

Just imagine redesigning a new way of doing school . . . jettisoning the unproductive structures and practices that are carryovers from the past and starting with a clean slate. If I had an opportunity to redesign schools I’d start by creating a list of ideas for this question:

What should a teacher be doing every day from the time (s)he walks in the door of the school until the time (s)he leaves?

I believe if we all thoughtfully answered that question, and designed schools with the dedicated purpose of smoothing the way for teachers to do those things that are most important, we might blink awake and find that we’re in tomorrow.

Oh yes, as our hero in the Groundhog Day movie continue to repeat the same day over and over, he began to reexamine his life and his priorities. And – he finally got it right! I believe we could get it right also if we could find the will – and a way – redo schooling. One day, before I’m too old make it through the schoolhouse door, I want to wake up in tomorrow.

What about you?