New is exciting. I get it. I’m even taken away by it many times. I remember when I was a kid, I got a new bike and couldn’t wait to get it on it. There was something about those streamers, the crisp basket with plastic daisies donning the front, and the shiny plaid seat. It was a new bike. I couldn’t toss my old bike aside quickly enough.
So, I took it out and rode down the driveway, a gravelly hill in front of our house set back in the woods… that sense of freedom gliding down the hill, wind in my hair, plastic streamers making a clicking sound as they tap-tap-tapped together. It was the best bike ever. Just like my old bike, but in my mind it was better, and c’mon, it had a basket and a plaid seat. I loved that bike. I never rode my old bike again.
I also remember my first car. And that feeling of leaving the driveway, then the road to my house, then the streets in my town. Traveling further each time. My car took me places faster and farther than my bike could. But the feeling was the same. Going somewhere, over the hills, sun shining, sites to see. It’s the same feeling when I get a new laptop, a new iPhone, the Apple Watch, or even when I got a remote controlled fan that was voice activated. Try it, explore it, do something new in a better way. Technology takes us places. It lets me use my voice to set my alarm and my wrist taps me when I need to remember a meeting.
As exciting as that is, I think about going further. Higher, farther, to see a whole new view. Places beyond my imagination, things I could not have thought of, but discover along the way. Exploring new paths that don’t require roads or paved ways. That scared feeling of the unknown combined with the excitement of figuring things out along the way, A place where the only reason the ceiling exists is so we can see how far we’ve come as we blow past it.
And then I think back to my classroom through the years. I think of how nervous I was when I let students take charge and I chased them like a scared-mom letting go of the bike. Then, I remember what it was like when I watched them drive the lesson, and I hovered “in the backseat”… probably too much. Okay, definitely too much. And I watched as they went places I had planned and told them to go – because I was their teacher. And slowly, I stopped planning so much and started watching as they decided where to go.
It was hard, it still is. But you know what?
When I’d step away, I’d see them go so much further. Places I didn’t imagine, but they found. Things I hadn’t conceived of, but they dreamed up. Places that were theirs to find. Using devices in new and different ways beyond what I thought of, because they have a playful mind that doesn’t hold back because of experiences. And I got to watch with all the excitement of the world watching the first footsteps on the moon. Watching, listening, not saying a word. Small steps unfolding into a monumental discovery.
I, for sure, will always miss hearing the tap-tap-tap of the streamers in the wind and the exhilarating glide down a bumpy gravel hill. But I’m also careful that even though I miss that, I don’t take it from others. Sometimes it’s not mine to experience, as I’m just running communication and support while they take the ride. It’s their journey and I’m just lucky enough to watch them go, or be there to help fix a tire when it’s needed.
I know not every moment is a new bike, or a new car, or even a launch to an entirely new dimension. But I also know that those moments are what it’s all about. That makes things messy and un-uniform. It causes our planned grids and posted objectives to need adjustment. I used to look at a technology scale like the R-A-T or the SAMR and think I needed to create that transformation, and by create, I’m pretty sure I meant force it. But, that’s just not how launches happen. Organically, authentically, with the right mix of experiences, learning just explodes. The launch breaks the chains, literally, off the pad. If you hold it too tight, you’ll squish it. And if you give it too much hydrogen at the wrong time, you’ll keep it from launching.
So, it’s beyond bikes, cars, and rockets. It’s about a conscience effort to provide the tools, choices, opportunities, and be there, just like folks manning mission control. Be there to support guide, in whatever way each student needs. Because if you step back as just the right moment, even you will be surprised by what happens. That iPad will be the wings taking them through the atmosphere. The laptop they share will enhance their collaboration and help them discover a solution. And you’ll realize, that even though you’ve gone to a place where you can no longer hear the streamers on your bike tapping in the wind, you’ve got all that and more. And the journey just keeps getting better.