I'm reading several interesting books at the moment. Here's one of them:
"Universal Principles of Design" (William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler)
As a classically training musician, I long ago came to realize that everything in life is all the same thing. Art, Music, Language, Love, Teaching, Learning, Design, Beauty, yada, yada, yada... it's all the same life force in different manifestations, if you will. As I read this classic text on design, I keep feeling my heart say, "Yes, that's exactly what good teaching is! It's just great design principles applied to learning, that's all." It's deep integration of Grant Wiggin's work on Understanding By Design.
If ever a company understood design, it would be, of all things, a technology company: Apple! One of Apple's key goals has always been to make complex technology look irresistible and easy, even essential, to integrate into your lifestyle. Again, great design is great educational practice. Great educational practice is great design. It's beautiful and welcoming. It appears elegant and simple. It has an allure about it, a curiosity that beckons.
Take a look at the iTunes Store screen shot below. How can you resist going deeper? The button, "Next Steps" is just begging you to click on it! Why, you would feel guilty if you didn't! You would be missing something you might really need, might really want. This is brilliant design! Our blog posts, our assignments, our lessons could all benefit from "Next Steps," from "Deep Cuts!"
As an educator, a teacher, a principal, if you find yourself working too hard to make your staff, your students reach your performance and educational goals, don't just work harder. Don't resort to anger. Don't raise your voice. Don't stress out trying to beat it out of them.
Just revisit your design! How do you make moving to "Next Steps" something each of them feels utterly compelled to do? You want them to know and experience the joy that really is learning and achieving--the essence of all that is beautiful. You want fire in their eyes as time melts away at the behest of going deeper into learning, of taking more personal ownership of their own educational quest.
And the positive energy, over time, begins to build on itself. You return to your center, your love of teaching, your calling.
It's the middle of February, which is always a good time to step back, and revisit your design.