I recently read the following paragraph in a book about math and how it affects our world:
“A way to wonder
One method we can all use to pour forth one creative idea after another is to begin with our everyday world, imagine some subtle property slightly altered, and then explore this altered state. Which features remain the same? Which features are different? Exploration of a hypothetical world generates whole galaxies of new ideas. And we'll discover a synergistic interplay in which those new ideas will lead us back to new insights into our familiar, everyday world"
[Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making light of weighty ideas. E.B. Burger & M Starbird, 2005, p 167]
I was very struck with this idea. This is an interesting way of finding new solutions, of increasing connectivity in programs and independence in students.
There are a lot of changes that we all want to make. Educators in general and especially VI professionals are all about change. The challenge is how to achieve it and where to put our efforts. The task can seem daunting.
But what if we played the "what if" game? What if we thought about our current world or that of our students and subtly altered it? What if this Louisa could travel to the playground independently? What would the impact be? What would we need to do?
Or what if all of the team picked a set of limited domains to focus on and what if we thought of "a galaxy of new ideas" to achieve it? Or even 2 members? A stellar idea!
How will I use this in my job? The Bring Your Boss to Work project is one way, VI professionals and administrators have a difficult time understanding each other.
What if administrators and VI professionals had a better understanding of each other? What would remain the same? It would vary on the caseload and situation. What could change? The options are endless including realistic performance evaluations, professional development options and more appropriate caseloads.
To advance this idea TSBVI and Texas AER recently hosted the Second Annual Bring Your Boss to Work week. This project encourages VI professionals to invite their boss to spend 2-4 hours with them as they visit their students and share each other's world.
The reports from people who brought their boss to work are amazing. They speak of overwhelming success and pride in what they do. So what if more people did this? What if we hosted it again next year... but altered it slightly? What could change?
- What if we sent postcards directly to administrators telling them of this amazing opportunity well in advance of the week? Then they would know that this event is coming up and be prepared to spend time with the VI professionals in their district.
- What if we provided forms to help the VI professionals share information about their students in an administrator-friendly way? Then the administrator may have more context or perspective for what they are observing.
- What if we published and shared stories from previous years with administrators to encourage them to spend time with their VI professionals? Then VI professionals and administrators may understand how this simple act can make a difference.
- What if we made Thank-You notes available, to recognize the amazing gift of time shared by the administrator. Then administrators would know how much we truly appreciate them and how hard they work.
Will this solve the issues of limited information and understanding? I can't think so. But not unlike the boy who saved a single starfish by throwing it back into the ocean, it could make it better for students in that district.
Expand your galaxies. Play “what if”, and then make it so.
KC Dignan, Ph.D.
Professional Development Coordinator