Where there is no vision, the people parish. (Proverbs 29:18).
When I first read it as a kid, I didn't think about the context. The literal text spoke to me, and the verse has propelled me forward for many years. A question in my mind has remained: What is my vision for my life?
This year as part of the National Education Association Master Teacher Project, I have had milestones set for me by Better Lesson, the company NEA has contracted with to host the courses of those in the project. For each milestone, I contract to complete a certain number of lessons.
When I began my journey with BL and the MTP, I was told I'd be responsible for submitting a lesson every day I teach English 12. At first, I consulted the district calendar and submitted the number of lessons I'd write based on student contact time. In time I discovered not all interpreted the "a lesson a day" mandate as literally as I did. Still, I needed a vision that empowered me to manage my contractual obligations. Otherwise, I would not, I realized, be able to complete the project requirements.
I've been involved in many other endeavors that necessitate my creating milestones that lead to completion of a task, including earning my B.S. in four years, finishing National Board Certification and recertification, earning my M.A.
Life in a western world revolves around milestones. To set milestones (goals) we need a vision.
One of my favorite RSA Animate videos suggests that people operate in one of six different time constructs and that schools need to understand that both culture and technology affect the way students perceive and react to time:
The first week of school a student from last year visited me and apologized for ignoring my advice about time management and deadlines. He quickly learned that five minutes late in submitting a paper resulted in a 50% grade reduction.
Finding a way to respect cultural mores while instilling the Western ideal that meeting milestones is key to their academic and job success presents an increasingly complicated challenge for teachers.
As I look forward to the end of the school year and begin planning for next year, I'm thinking about ways to incorporate lessons on time and milestones and developing a vision into the required curriculum.
Right now, I feel a bit like the speaker in the Hootie and the Blowfish song "Time."