Random Thoughts

Finding Your Metaphor For the Year

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I want to take some time to talk about a recent free guide we created called Finding Your Metaphor for the Moment. When I provide coaching for school leaders, we often spend a lot of time thinking and discussing metaphors as a communication tool. 

Now I didn’t invent the idea of leaders using metaphors to galvanize teams. There has been a lot written about how this matters and ways to experiment with it. I want to read you a quick quote from one of my favorite pieces from Forbes that explores this idea:

Metaphors and analogies  are exceptionally efficient ways to accelerate insight.  If you see recurring points of friction, think about the best metaphor or analogy for your system and communicate it explicitly. One team used the analogy of a hybrid car to explain how their hybrid structure would work: We’re one car, headed to one destination. We have two engines, a gas engine and an electric one that propels us forward. Both are necessary and equal.  In any given situation, we use the one best suited to the conditions.”

What I love about that example is how simple it is. So, if you were to think about your school’s library system, is it more like a hybrid car or a jet ski? If you reflect on the orientation schedule for your school, is it more like a roller coaster or a bridge? What about the communication system you’ve established with parents and care-takers in years past, would they describe it to be a water fountain or a water park?

When we reframe systems we engage with in a creative way, I think it makes us pay more attention to some of the details we may overlook. In our free guide ‘Finding Your Metaphor For the Moment’ you will find yet another example. The guide walks you through a few pages on how Baseball might be an interesting metaphor for classroom culture (I know me using baseball metaphors is a shock to many of  you, right?). In what ways do students have ‘batting practice’ where they can take swing after swing and devote time to one specific skill at a time? Fellow baseball fans will know the term ‘battery,’ this refers to a really tight knit bond between the catcher and the pitcher. So I would ask myself how my classroom culture is inspiring and providing space for each learner to co-create a new battery. 

The point of this thought experiment is to provide space to envision what we want to do, and how we want to think about our goals. We invited a few educators to share their metaphor for the year ahead. We will hear first from Angeline Aow, who is a pedagogical leader and consultant. Join me in listening what she has to say about the mighty onion:

What a great example–which fruit or vegetable is YOUR curriculum framework most like and why? 

Let’s dig into another example, this time from a Head of Community Relations:

Nancy thank you for demonstrating how our thinking around metaphors can be scaffolded with questions. If I were to go back to my baseball example, and I wanted to use it with a department or a grade level group I might ask them to share a story that was one of our ‘double play moments,’ or to tell me what activity they have in their batting rotation in the cleanup position. 

Let’s turn to one more example, this time courtesy of a Head of School, Kathleen Naglee

Thank you Kathleen for sharing that personal story. Her example reminds me that when we share our metaphor, we have an opportunity to share our stories and that cultivates stronger relationships. 

Ok, ready for our final example? Here we go:

I really appreciate what Dr. Waid says there about radically reimagining our education systems and ways of learning together.

So hopefully they have inspired you to think more about finding a metaphor for the moment, or perhaps for thinking about inviting learners to co-create one for the start of the your next unit.  If you are looking for more resources to help you do that, head over to shiftingschools.com.

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.

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