Earlier this week, Grant Lichtman spent a day with our teachers, staff, and administrators. He didn’t spend a great deal of time just speaking to us but instead he posed questions and gave challenges. Grant also had a way with analogies. The one that struck me was the analogy of the vase, rocks, and sand. Here’s my simplistic explanation:
The vase is our school or our large goals.
The rocks are the big ideas and challenges.
The sand is the filler – the how to.
The only way to combine your big ideas with the practical how to segment is to put the rocks in the vase first.
How does this related to St. John’s desire to implement digital portfolios? Well, first we started with a voluntary committee (we wanted a strong vase). Under the direction of our head of school, the committee started slowly putting in rocks. The first rock was to answer the question of why. Why did we want to go to the trouble of training teachers, students, and parents about portfolios? What was our rationale behind portfolios? Did we just want to stick some stuff in them for parents to see or did we want to capture the essence of learning? So, our first rock represented our commitment to not just show the product but to highlight the process of learning.
Well, I’ve learned something about myself. I’m more of a sand person than a rock person. It takes a conscious effort, on my part, to allow myself the time to ponder these big picture questions. Us sand people want to skip to the implementation – the how to.
So, as our digital portfolio committee continues to discuss, question, and consider all the rocks, I’ll commit to the time that rocks require. But I’ll stand ready with the sand.