Lately, I have been dwelling upon the Classic Albums that served as ignition for innovation. As a Lead Learner of a school amidst a paradigm shift, I am pulling those albums that sparked a revolution in the music industry: “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles. These albums are my go-to for unpacking inspiration. (Eventually, I will write about other albums for the purposes of variety in this blog.)
Both of these albums were intentionally created in an atmosphere of creativity, collaboration and love. These albums echo with an unrelenting resonance that still provokes discussion, insight and memory.
A couple of days ago, I had the privilege of listening to a message from my friend and colleague, Jennifer Ladd (@jenladd). Jen is an inspiring 4th Grade Teacher in Michigan. I have had the fortunate luck to collaborate with Jen last summer as she guest moderated #EdBeat, the weekly Twitter Chat I co-host with Natalie Krayenvenger (@NKrayenvenger). Since Jen’s guest host stint, we have grown into being friends. We bond over sharing our mutual admiration for “Seinfeld” along with our various adventures with our families. Jen is a sincere voice who challenges herself by always seeking opportunities to grow and connect as an educator.
I might add that Jen and I have conversations via Voxer (@voxer). This is essentially a Social Media App used to share recorded voice messages, texts, etc.
Jen is a natural storyteller. It also helps that she has one of those dulcet NPR-type voices. Having a conversation with Jen is like a having a cool, personal episode of NPR’s “Fresh Air” in your airwaves. Jen had been sharing another story from her 4th Grade Class affectionately known as the “Laddiators.” Jen had been facilitating an engaging classroom activity known as the “Cardboard Challenge.” (cardboardchallenge.com)
The Cardboard Challenge provides kids an opportunity to engage in play, imagination and critical-thinking. The pursuit of curiosity is permitted in this imagination-laden activity.
Jen’s message was almost symphonic in her detailing of her students’ classroom victories involving their imagination being unleashed. She said something that struck a chord within me:
“I think this is going to be one of those memories. This is going to be one of those times you remember fondly something that happened at school.”
Our work in the noble profession of Education is impactful. Sometimes, we are not always in tune with that impact. How inspiring it was to hear Jen share this awareness! There are times when we dwell on the mundane and inessential the schoolhouse. I am guilty of expending too much focus on the bogged deadline and minutiae meandering. Jen’s words resonate, inspire and challenge. We should tune into our words and actions as educators. Most importantly, we must tune into the impact that ripples along the path we design with our students.
In her sharing of her students’ involvement in this activity, Jen sounded jubilant. This was the sound of a teacher who knew she hit that right note in the classroom. It is euphoric when it happens and there is a sense of urgency to share it with the nearest person willing to listen. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk in the genesis of an eternal memory with my friend.