Aww is a word used to describe what people may think of things that are cute, sweet, sad, good or bad. As in, “Aww, that baby is so cute!” or “Aww, that must’ve really hurt.” Awe, on the other hand, is a feeling of unmitigated wonder. As in, “Wow!” or “Unbelievable!” or “Incredible!” When it comes to learning, let’s not make it cute, sweet, sad, good or bad; rather, let’s build a feeling among our learners of an enormous sense of wonder whether it be unmitigated joy or deep consternation. we have a “responsibility to awe” (see short video below). But, how can we get there? Tom Murray, director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, offers 10 Steps to Developing a Powerful Learning Culture, as we work to create awe in learning for our students.
- Clearly define and articulate the vision. Take our BCS Vision, Mission, Values and Beliefs and align it with your classroom constitution or norms, etc.
- Model: Practice what you preach. Model how awe finds its way into your own life. Say what you do and do what you say.
- Learning should be anytime, anywhere. This is where our service learning and project-based learning efforts take learning outside of our school wall either physically or digitally.
- Balance districtwide initiatives with the need for learning that’s personal. We can, and must maintain a laser focus on our vision while also meeting the personal needs of each other and the students we serve.
- Move from hours-based to outcome-based accountability. This is easy to say, though, perhaps, hard to do. It does not matter how much time we spend on any given task, the whether learning occurred. Regardless of time spent, were the outcomes reached? Did the learning occur?
- Shift the culture of professional learning. I can honestly say, that the professional learning and collaboration among our awesome BCS staff is a high level unlike I have ever experienced in a school or business setting. I am humbled by the culture of learning we have among the educators and support staff at BCS!
- Empower staff to design their own learning. I hope the time and space I work to provide for teachers allow each of the to design their own, as well as their team’s, learning.
- Solicit teacher feedback. Am I, as an administrator, providing teachers what they want and need regarding professional learning? I know I can do better with this, though, as with number 7, I will continue to provide time and space for teachers to design and manage their learning.
- Break down silos. This is where we not only learn from each other at BCS, but also others educators across our district, county, state, nation and even internationally.
- Grow your network. With social media, there is no excuse of us to isolate ourselves. With these powerful tools, we can learn literally from anyone, anywhere, anytime. What a luxury!
In the below video, psychologist Nicholas Humphrey shares his perspective briefly between “disengagement and radiant ecstasy.” The moments of awe exist, and Humphrey asks the question, how do we get there? As he ends stating, “We have a responsibility to awe.”