It's automatic.

CC licensed photo shared by inane_ramblings
CC licensed photo shared by inane_ramblings

The other day I stopped my car at a 4-way, stop signed intersection. (Really, truly stopped, not one of those I-bet-if-a-cop-was-watching-me-right-now-I’d-get-ticketed-slow-rolling-pauses.)

I glanced to the right, saw another car had arrived a few seconds before I did, so I paused to allow that car to proceed before I moved ahead.

I’ve done this probably one bazillion times in my driving life. For whatever reason, this time I reflected on how truly remarkable it is that this process, this act of allowing a driver to your right to make the first move at an intersection, came to be automatic in my driving repertoire. Yield to the right.

I don’t much think about it. I just do it.

What processes have become automatic to us as educators? Which of these processes benefit student learning? Which detract from it?

I pondered these lists of automatics…..

Automatic (and they shouldn’t be)

Screen shot 2010-12-22 at 7.51.24 PM

Automatic (and they should be)

Screen shot 2010-12-22 at 7.51.08 PMIn rereading Blink, I began to appreciate the skill of being able to assess a situation at first glance, and with a certain gut instinct and an ingrained set of background knowledge and experiences, make an important decision in an instant. As administrators, we’re presented with a seemingly endless stream of conflicts and situations that need resolutions. Some of them are solved in an instant. Others require patience, evaluating all facets of the problem, and involving other stakeholders in the decision-making process.

The skill, then, is not necessarily being able to solve problems in an instant, but being able to differentiate among which situations require a more thought-out solution and those that can be solved in a cinch. Automatically.

I’d love to hear your automatics and your reflections on how they impact your daily practice and student learning opportunities. A holiday break is upon us, and I hope to be able to find the time to reflect upon the things that I do daily, automatically, and decide how my priorities need to be better aligned to serve students. How should I more wisely spend my time? How can I better support my teachers? How can I work more collaboratively with my administrative team members? How can I promote student autonomy in the learning experiences we design?

If the willingness to improve doesn’t become automatic for us, we won’t yield for that integral reflection, and we deserve to be ticketed.

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