K-12 education is a multi-billion dollar industry driven by an endless stream of silver bullets and other shiny things. How can you get a share of the action? Just follow these ten easy steps:
1. Choose an aspect of instruction that is so mundane and common sense it doesn’t merit discussion. Example: having kids raising their hands; assigning a video to watch at home. Let’s call this your ‘’Game-changer.”
2. Come up with a jargon-rich name. Example: Kids raising their hands = ‘non-verbal assessment cues.’ Kids watching videos at home = ‘flipping the classroom.’ (This leaves more class time for engaging activities. See Step 3.)
3. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TALK ABOUT THE ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM. For the flipped classroom example, do not ask, “Why are teachers lecturing in the first place? Why aren’t engaging activities already the bulk of class time?” (Hint: If they were, you’d have no Game Changer. See how important this step is?) Another question to avoid here: “What if my kids don’t have internet at home?”
4. Create complexity where none exists. For example, in a flipped classroom, one student might watch a video twice, while another might take notes while watching. Call these obvious differences ‘self-paced differentiated personalized instruction.’
5. Further break this complexity into multiple steps to create a ‘protocol’. A ‘flipped classroom instructional protocol’ to assign the video might look like this:
a. Select video for students.
b. ‘Copy link’.
c. Go to course website.
d. Look at course website.
e. Select 3 different places to put the link.
f. Create a T-chart of the pros and cons for each location.
g. Review with colleagues using a Professional Learning Community protocol.
h. Finalize location of video link.
i. Paste/embed link into selected location.
j. Turn away from the computer and look at the kids.
k. Select a ‘verbal communication method’ to alert kids to the video. For example, you might say, “Students, here is a link for a video I’d like you to watch.”
l. Allow wait time for questions.
m. Rinse and repeat.
6. While you’re busy with that robust protocol, be sure to avoid any real complexity. For example, if your Game Changer is “21st Century Gamification for Data-Driven Assessment”, don’t ever talk about the real 21st century issues kids face, such as inequality and climate change. I repeat: Silence is the best option since talking about the issues begs the question, “How does my Game Changer solve these problems?” If the answer is, “It doesn’t — it’s an end in itself,” you’d have to go back to Step 1. Yikes!
7. Declare your approach the platinum standard, making yourself an automatic expert. Protocol: Look in the mirror, wink at your self and shout, “I have arrived!”
8. Buy certificate paper and print out an official declaration of your expertise. Frame the certificate. Optional: Turn it into a digital ‘badge’ or ‘microcredential’.
9. Promote and network with other innovators. Tip: Wear short sleeves so you have more arm mobility to pat each other (or yourself) on the back.
10. Wait for the call from venture capitalists to scale your Game Changer.
Congratulations! You’ve done it. Let me know how it goes (and be sure to put aside my cut).