Funny how 180 has worked out in so many different ways. Initially, it was about turning education upside down: 180 degrees. Then, conveniently, it also related to the school year: 180 days. Now, accidentally, if not coincidentally, as I am working through discovering a formula for the shared commitment in a 180 classroom, I stumbled upon a memory from my geometry class long ago: the angles of a triangle always add up to 180. So, the idea of the triad of shared commitment and the 60 degrees of responsibility for each participant led me to create a metaphor for the ideal conditions of an educational environment: the equilateral triangle. That is the ideal condition, the condition we should strive to create for each kid. But the real is not always the ideal, so it gives us something to chase.
Education is a triangle. And while every triangle adds up to 180, not all triangles are ideal. And for each situation–each kid–the triangle varies. Some kids dwell in the space of the scalene, while other kids live in the realm of the obtuse, and some reside in the right. And for a slim few, the stars align and they exist in the equilateral. With 180, I want to turn that upside down by creating the necessary conditions for the ideal environment, putting each kid in the equilateral. Truly, something to chase.
Control. Each stakeholder has a corner of control. I can only truly control one thing: my dedication. Kids control their motivation. Parents control their involvement. Separately, each conducts a symphony. Collectively, all try to find harmony. And, I believe that harmony is achieved through influence.
Influence. I cannot control things outside my corner, but I am connected to the other corners and they to me. And through that connection, we find influence. Yesterday, I shared the above graphic with my kiddos in an attempt to hit home the idea of the shared commitment. But I also used it to address the dissonance in our space, an off-key chord disrupting our harmony: a lack of motivation. Fearing that my bag of inspirational tricks is not working with enough kids, I have taken to a new tactic: using my influence with parents.
So, I shared my concerns about a lack of real communication between students and parents, revealing my suspicions of some less-than-authentic-looking signatures on the midterm portfolios. But more than that, I shared that I had to find new ways to influence their motivation because not enough work is being done. So, I gave the kids fair warning of “Operation Email.” Attempting to assure them that it was professional and not personal, I alerted them to the fact that I will be using email extensively in the coming weeks to influence parental involvement, which, in turn, I hope influences student motivation. I told them, frankly, that my hoping they would have put on their big-boy and big-girl pants by now has not happened for enough of them, so I am playing the parent card. In the end, really it is part of my responsibility as a dedicated teacher. Nothing personal. And while it will probably create some further discord in our shared space for a while, discord always happens along the path to harmony. Fortunately, it’s already working. Amazing how many kids were asking for handouts. Amazing, too, how many parents have already responded, expressing their desire to be involved.
Happy Friday, all. Have a great weekend.