I know, I know. You’re asking, “But what about surprise parties? They’re good, right?”
And on some level, they certainly are.
But, all surprises are unexpected, and if I’ve learned anything in my years in education (or in life, for that matter), it is better to expect the unexpected, than to be caught by it.
When it comes to the profession of education, getting surprised can have a real negative impact on the work that we do. Our profession always works best when we have structures in place and things run smoothly. Like with a car, too many bumps in the road can leave things permanently damaged.
Since we can’t escape from the unknown, and since we have to assume we’ll be surprised by situations from time-to-time, we have to shift our thinking to preparedness for any given situation.
How do we get there? One of the easiest ways is to never assume that certain scenarios couldn’t play out in your school or district. When it comes to life, everything is fair game; even the most peaceful institutions can be rocked by violence, for instance.
By reading, researching, role-playing, etc. we can make sure that we expose our stakeholders to what could happen (even if it never does). While it is never good to think about what could go bad, it is a necessity as we’re always best informed when we admit to ourselves that we’re not exempt from the negative factors in this world.
Another way we can always be prepared? By staying up-to-date with what is happening in the world, and requiring our community to do so as well. A good example of this ties back to edtech. What’s new in the tech world? What should we know about how learners are using these tools? How can we best protect our stakeholders and still allow these tools to be used to maximize learning? Asking these questions and more provides us with necessary information to plan, and just as importantly, to create a Plan B (and C, and so on).
And what about those surprises that actually benefit people?
Being prepared for anything makes these situations even more powerful. When something great happens, we can all take a step back and breathe easy, if only for a moment. Being prepared for anything makes it easier to smile when the anything that occurs is a treasure for all.