Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Timing + Opportunity = Group Effort

I don’t know about you but sometimes I scan the faces of my classroom and wonder who is sitting out there. Is that kid in the front row the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, John Lennon or Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Yunus or Jessica Jackley?

This is a helpful strategy on days when students act less than appreciative of the role teachers play in their lives (which, some might argue is everyday). However, it also serves me well as I reflect upon what these students need to know? What kinds of thinking skills and strategies will help them thrive in today’s global economy? And most of all, what kinds of dreams are lying just beneath the surface of their tough exterior and what opportunities await them in the near future?

In the book Outliers -The story of success, author Malcolm Gladwell points out that “timing and opportunity” are two key factors of successful people. Gladwell tells the story of Bill Gates and Bill Joy, two Silicon Valley giants, born less than 12 months apart on opposite ends of the country. The timing was perfect for the opportunity they had as adolescents to spend thousands of hours programming what was known at the time as computers. My guess is that you know what those opportunities turned into.

When asked, ‘What do you want people to take away from Outliers?’ Gladwell responded: “My wish with Outliers is that it makes us understand how much of a group project success is. When outliers become outliers it is not just because of their own efforts. It's because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances— and that means that we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds—and how many of us succeed—than we think. That's an amazingly hopeful and uplifting idea.”

Here ZPS sits at the cusp of a multimillion dollar initiative that will put computers in the hands of thousands of students, our students, our children. The hope is that we as teachers, administrators, parents, and community members view this as more than just giving kids ubiquitous access and gadgets, and instead we see this as giving our kids opportunities.

No doubt this will take a monumental effort. It is no small task to integrate technology into classroom instruction. At times it seems daunting, however we must remember the opportunity for our students far outweighs the cost for us. And if we stick together and help one another along the way, we just might find a few outliers sitting in the front row.

No comments:

Post a Comment