We all have educator-heroes and my list is a long one. I’m always picking their brains to discover what they’re contemplating, struggling with, and getting inspired by. So, it’s no surprise that I turned to one of my favorites, Byron Darnall, a principal in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to find out what his first day with teachers was going to be like. “We’re going to do this Rube Goldberg experience,” he said. “Teachers are going to bring in materials from home and we’re going to see if we can build some simple machines.” Then he continued, “We can’t just come in and sit. If we want our kids to think and create in these ways, so do we.” Exactly.
Building culture is so much more than a poster of a vision statement or syllabus that extolls the merits of student-centered learning. Culture isn’t just what we say, it’s the accumulation of our habits, it’s the impact of our actions. And while I firmly believe that the language we choose, the mantras we repeat, are crucial in creating classroom culture, I also know it’s the experience of our collective actions that our learners carry with them. Like Rube Goldberg, who was famous for generating these overly complex renderings of very simple machines, we too must recognize the difference between our purpose and the complex apparatus we can so easily build around it.
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