The Gap: What We Think We Know, What We Really Know, What We Do


ONE: This week I learned that I don’t know anything about “rigor,” and apparently I’m not alone. (I would normally say, “I don’t know jack about rigor,” but I’m really trying to be professional here.)

When Barbara Blackburn closed her interview with Vicki Davis by saying that there is a broad “lack of understanding of what rigor is” among educators, I was surprised. How could this possibly be in the wake of all the vigorous discussions about rigor in education today? I thought, hmmm Barbara should probably brace for some pushback on this one. As it turned out her episode, Three Myths About Rigor: What It Is, What It’s Not, What It Looks Like in the Classroom was the most popular segment on BAM Radio this week. The only challenge I did see was a provocative tweet from Lori Lalama, @techeducator1, accompanied by the following definition:


Well, I thought I knew what rigor meant. Apparently, Barbara was right.

Both of the remaining “aha’s” this week came under the heading of, do I really have to keep learning these lessons over and over again?

TWO: It’s quite possible that one of the most important life lessons is one of the most ignored across the entire education community. This week Nancy Blair Peter Spiegel and William Chamberlain reminded me (for the billionth time) that it’s critical to take time to rest, rejuvenate and take care of ourselves. I know, this sounds like a GEICO commercial, “everybody knows that.” Yet the gap between knowing and doing in this area is wide and seems to be getting wider. For fourteen years I took every Wednesday off to spend eight hours alone in the mountains. I invariably returned energized and was undeniably more productive for the rest of the week. At some point I convinced myself that I had too much to do to continue these Wednesday retreats, so I decided to make Wednesday another workday. This week’s Edchat Radio segment, Five Ways to Rejuvenate Yourself and Stay Energized for the Rest of the School Year reminded me of what a foolish decision that was.

THREE: The final most important lesson of the week came during the episode of BrandED with Joe Sanfeliopo Scott Rocco and Tony Sinanis (According to Tony, Joe’s contract requires that he always gets top billing).

Listening to the first few minutes of “the Joe and Tony show” is like chasing three cups of java with a can of Red Bull. The energy and the amplitude are off the scale. As you listen to the opening banter between them, two things quickly become clear: They are nothing like the school superintendent or principal you grew up with, and you are definitely not listening to NPR. Hear for yourself.

But behind the self-deprecating humor, quick wit and schoolyard ribbing, is a serious commitment to supporting kids, educators and learning that matches or surpasses any of the 3,000 plus guests who have appeared on BAM Radio.

Over the last eight years, I’ve often listened as lively, engaging and interesting guests were magically transformed into talking- point-delivery robots by four simple words, “Okay, we’re recording now.” It’s as if somewhere it is written:

“Thou shalt be professional and professional sounds like this and only this”

The lesson for me is that we don’t have to “sound “ serious to “be” serious about our commitment to kids, education and lifelong learning. Go Crickets!

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