New Year’s What Ifs .

I’ve been digging the heck outta Andrew R. McHugh and Matt Murrie’s work with The What If . . . ? LLC.  They put on The What If . . . ? Conference in Missouri as well as affiliated smaller events all around the country.  They value the power of the succinct and the profound. (Speakers at What If…? events are limited to 8 minutes, building on the value of the constraint well proven by Ignite and Pecha Kucha and something called TED.)

They coach change and team dynamics. They foster ideas and hybrid thinking. They champion possibilities.

I dig.  A lot.

The power of design thinking and the “how might we . . .?” carries right over into “what if . . .?” thinking and got me pondering . . .  naturally . . .

What if . . . I made a list of “what if’s” rather than resolutions for 2014?

What if I posted this list in my classroom? In my office? On my blog?

What if I shared this list on Twitter? on Facebook?

What if this list grew and evolved over the next twelve months?

What if I enlisted my PLN to help me turn my “what if’s” into “how did we’s?”

What if my list looked something like what follows . . .

  • What if I sent e-mails to parents & guardians each week updating them on what we’ve done in class?
  • What if I blogged every class, every day?
  • What if I took out an ad in the local newspaper, directing the community to my classroom blog & Twitter feed?
  • What if I assessed five of my ninety-five student blogs every day?
  • What if I encouraged & enabled my students to redo major projects?
  • What if I offered mini-grammar lessons every week?
  • What if I offered grammar assessments, that can be retaken, every week?
  • What if I went whole hog into standards-based grading and got permission from my principal and head of guidance to permit fluid marking periods for my students for the second semester?
  • What if I designed a biology/English hybrid course with a colleague for 2014-2015?
  • What if I wrote that young adult novel I’ve had in my head for the past 10+ years?
  • What if I shared each chapter with my students as I went?
  • What if I wrote it on my classroom blog?
  • What if I collaborated with my students on a comic book?
  • What if I chose not to crowd source our student-written school musical this year, as I planned, and instead ran a series of music and theater events this winter with the focus on raising our capital for the show to be performed in May?
  • What if all of the rubrics for all of our work could be found on the blog?
  • What if I made a Google doc with every blog prompt in a scheduled calendar?
  • What if I used constantly-updated shared tables and spreadsheets to keep track of assignments, readings, prompts?
  • What if I poured as much energy into the grad course I am taking around customized learning as I have passion for customized learning?
  • What if I assessed student work the day I receive it?
  • What if I used class time to assess student work with the student sitting along side me?
  • What if I used flipped and blended strategies to make it possible to assess student work during class time?
  • What if I enlisted a cadre of former practicum & pre-professional educators to work with me to create more class time for student conferences?
  • What if established a more formalized partnership with the University of Maine at Farmington to make that cadre a perpetuating experience?
  • What if I worked with colleagues to bring guest speakers to campus once a week for the benefit of both students and staff?
  • What if I generated as much content on my blog as I retweet through my Twitter?
  • What if I used design thinking with our district-wide mass customized learning roll out?
  • What if I helped my colleagues to see how design thinking works?
  • What if I helped my colleagues to explore Twitter as a professional development experience?
  • What if I approached our staff meetings with wonder and awe?
  • What if I made a conscious effort to improve the habits of mind as I expect the same of my students?

What if this was only the beginning of my what if’s for 2014?

About Dan Ryder

Dan Ryder & Jeff Bailey, co-founders of Wicked Decent Learning, a blog, podcast, Twitter feed and who-knows-what-all-else devoted to teaching and learning in Vacationland and beyond. Teachers, dads, actors, writers, geeks, buds.

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