As I have gotten older, I may have found myself standing in the kitchen questioning, “Now, why did I come in here?” My dear husband, Dave, says it is simply a sign of having too many things on my mind and not focusing. He might say that every once in a while when I try to play golf, too, but that is another blog…or two…or three.
Now that I think of it, this blog is going to sound like “True Confessions”, because in order to talk about knowing where to go, I must admit that I have a deep dark secret. I love to play video games. I have a passion for the ones in which I have to travel around the country or the island or the strange land in an effort to collect things or save people from the evil intruders. I suppose it gives me a sense of accomplishment (completing things and marking them off my list really feeds my obsessive-compulsive nature), but it is also a fun release from other responsibilities.
In the interest of full disclosure, I could reveal which game I’m currently playing in the hopes that some of you might have some amazing tips for me. But no, Dave, I am going to stay focused. My sad tale of woe is that this weekend, as I tried to traverse around my strange land, I kept finding myself at the base of mountain ranges with no way to navigate over them. I run, run, run to the east or to the west to see if there might be a mountain pass, but to no avail. I even found myself saying these words outloud, to no one in particular, “I don’t know where else to go! I’ve visited all the bells, killed all the honeybadgers, and cleared all the outposts. What am I supposed to do now?” I said that I made this plea to no one in particular, but sadly, Dave heard me and rolled his eyes and said, “Really?”
What I found out was that the key to not being lost or confused anymore was to go back to a home base, where I would find shelter, health, and people who cared enough about me to direct me on my way. All the demands I placed to the game system (“just tell me where to go!”) made no impact, but going back to a homebase and safe place did.
Interesting concept, right?
The same holds true, I believe for a school community, not to mention a supportive grade level or content area group. Professional communities provide a home base that can often bridge the gap between banging our heads against a wall and…well, not banging our heads against the wall and finding solace. What happens when we meet with those safe people is hopefully a bit of shared knowledge (in the case of my game, it’s “remember, you’re supposed to follow the next mission and not get too astray on your own” but in the case of successful grade level communities I’ve witnessed, it’s “I know you said you were struggling with a couple of new discussion strategies. I tried a couple of new ones I watched someone teach about and I can share with you how it went if you want.” YES!!! Please share with me! In professional communities of administrators, it might look like, “After collecting evidence on a teacher’s lesson, I keep falling into the same trap of wanting to write, ‘I like the way you…..’. How do you substitute that for words that are more objective?” And then the sharing takes place.
No more running to and fro, trying to get over a mountain by manhandling. Just return to homebase and maybe seek out the wisdom of others who might have traveled the same frustrating road. And, as an added bonus, when I did this in my game, I found a little mini helicopter that I could use to fly OVER the mountains. Ta-da!!!
Just for today, maybe we can focus on getting back to home base or a safe haven to share some knowledge and gain some wisdom.