Sunday, February 22, 2009

Are you adaptable?

I had a chance recently to go on a hike with my older brother. I am fortunate that I live outside the city of Dallas in a small suburb that currently is know for the fact that 43, 000 citations have been issued with a red light camera at one intersection and that number is greater than the population of the city itself. There also happens to be a great creek running several different directions throughout the city and it comes close enough to my house that we decided to go "creeking" the other day. Having recently been discharged from the hospital, I took my ID and cell phone just in case and I am glad that I did so that I could take some pictures. As we walked along we came across this tree that you see to the right and I was fascinated by the fact that the roots of that tree were continually adapting to whatever the creek brought it's way. As a result the tree continued to make it in the real world, our world.
This caused me to ask myself whether or not I am adaptable or am I as adaptable as I think I am or should be? While I feel that I am, the discussion that came about with my brother was how adaptable do our students have to be today? At my school our students may have 4 classes on one day and 3-4 on the other depending on their schedule. This is also known as an A/B block schedule. A teacher may have anywhere from 15-25 students depending on the class and the level for 4-6 periods in those 2 days. We all know that students have to be pretty adaptable because they continually adapt while they "play school" to get out. They adapt to the teacher so as to get a decent grade. They adapt to the day as they encounter other students and faculty be it in the hall, at athletics, extra-curriculars and on and on.
As I pondered this more and more, I got to thinking maybe the students don't have to adapt at all since a lot of teachers stick to the tried and true methods that they have known and how they were taught. Maybe we could all learn from the students. Maybe it's time for us to take a closer look so as to be able to see what the students need as opposed to what is going to get me through my day in the easiest way possible. I don't know as I am still trying to figure this one out.
Are you adaptable? If so how so? I would love to see if I am going the right direction. Let me know.
So much to learn and the time gets shorter and shorter.


Carolyn Foote said...

I love your analogy. My perception is that students are somewhat adaptable, but I think it's true that when students are faced with unique assignments that "change the game' somehow, that they are a bit thrown off, and I think that's because they aren't that used to that in secondary education.

Is it that we aren't adaptable, or don't have time, or just don't know how to do it differently, or what?

Sometimes the easiest route isn't the best one, right?

Personally, I am wishing I had had an education that required me to be more adaptable. It would be serving me on a personal level right now.

I wonder, what if I had been really challenged not to just be a good student, but to really think, probe, be challenged? What if I had the rug pulled out from under me in academic situations, had experiments that were real, had to learn on my feet? I somehow wonder what a difference that might have made in my whole life?

Not rigor, so to speak, but challenges, real-life learning experiences, and risk taking?

barbaram said...

I just had a conversation with @timisusually about this very thing. Our discussion centred around preparation for an unknown future, and a key piece of that is creating learning opportunities to allow students to understand that they can reflect, create, change. Is this the definition of adaptablity? Don't know; the tree certainly just reacts to external circumstance. Maybe we also need to trust that human instinct.