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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...




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Recalibration

opportunity ahead
Recalibration has become a popular term in our society over the past few years and reflects the reality of the constant and the increasingly rapid state of change in our society. Perhaps the most familiar recalibration for many of us is our GPS system as it recalibrates us toward our predetermined destination.

I am amazed at how easily we follow the orders of the GPS system and rarely question its recalibrations. This is especially interesting to me, as many times we see and feel intuitively that there may be a better routing, but we still acquiesce to the GPS system. In reality, following the directives of GPS usually works. It may not trump our intuition, but it doesn’t usually get us into trouble either. GPS works because it makes decisions not on intuition or not among choices of variables, but on the fact of where roads are and are not. This does not change at the speed of life, like the rest of our environment.

Our driving itself, however, is variable. We can control how fast we drive, if we stay in the appropriate lane, if we have the windows down or air-conditioning on, if we have music on or talk radio, or enjoy reflective silence. We can also, by the way, control whether or not we follow the directions of the GPS or use our intuition and our own knowledge of other variables (time of day, construction zones, stop lights etc.) to determine a better route. And, what happens when we change our minds as to where we want to go, or someone changes this for us? The GPS only adapts if we enter new directives.

In my work in schools and with youth, many teachers focus on and emphasize the uncontrollable variables: policies, laws, regulations and mandates that they believe control how and what they can do to educate youth. They focus just on the roads.

But within the controllable variables, I far too often find that teachers acquiesce to doing things they have traditionally and comfortably done before, when the environment is significantly changing, and their choices more available than they realize. In many cases, they simply hand over their power for intuition and problem-solving and change leadership out of deference to the road. They forget that they can roll the windows down and turn up the music!

It is time for teachers to recalibrate the controllable variables and reconsider ways of educating, motivating and activating America’s youth. It is time to identify what we can control in classrooms and not what we can’t. It is time to put some humanity back in teaching.

Teachers must determine what really matters to them and follow their intuition, heart and soul instead of allowing others to recalibrate everything for them. They need to consider what practices can and need to be adapted, what relationships need to be enhanced and sustained, what climate they want to create in their classes and schools, what skills they need to enhance and what they can do to ensure every student in offered quality opportunities to succeed in school and in life.

Just as we would rarely rely solely on a GPS to navigate the streets of our own neighborhood or our own home town, we need to ensure that we acknowledge and utilize our own human intuition, creativity, and on-the-fly problem-solving to adapt to the ever-changing educational environment. Focusing on our controllable variables will allow us to educate, motivate and activate our young people regardless of potentially changing destinations.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
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