In his book 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, author and leadership expert John Maxwell relates the following story: while a salesman looks out of a hotel restaurant window at a blinding snowstorm, he asks the waiter if he thinks the roads will be clear enough to travel the next morning. The waiter responds, “Depends on if you are on salary or commission” (Maxwell, 2012, p. 140). Maxwell’s point in the story is that, while it is important to know how and what you’re going to do, it is just as important, or perhaps even more so, to know why you are doing it. As Maxwell relates,
“Having a strong why will help you to keep going when the learning becomes difficult, discouraging, or tedious. If your growth is connected to your values, dreams, and purpose, you’ll know why you’re doing it. And you will be more likely to follow through (Maxwell, 2012, p. 140).
As I reported in a recent post regarding a current ID project, instructor workload remains my primary challenge; I am still learning how to make the 16-week course I am developing in Canvas look and feel the way that I want it to, while also creating content that reflects sound instructional principals and pedagogical practices. At the same time, however, adhering to self-regulated deadlines is also revealing itself as a major test in the development process. It is very easy to fall into the trap of putting off work that is not due for several weeks and focus on more immediate priorities, such as: completing assignments for a class that ended this week; planning, studying, and rehearsing music with my students in my current (full-time) position as a public-school music teacher; spending extra time with my 4-year-old son; completing household chores and repairs… the list goes on and on and on. And yet, there is a reason, a why, that I have chosen to return to school and pursue a different career path than the one I have spent the past 12 years in. There are, in actuality, several whys. Getting into those would fill another post entirely, but one in particular informs this project itself. That is, I believe that traditional “sit-and-get” professional development for in-service teachers is insufficient and ineffective, and is a primary reason why I have not observed more widespread adoption of student-centered technology driven resources and pedagogy in the classroom. This project, in contrast, is allowing me the opportunity to develop a research based long-term professional development course that I believe will lead to effective integration of instructional technology in the classroom. And so, I must remind myself to keep working, to follow through, and to remember my why.