You've heard it before, on the internet, or in the meeting last week. The educators who have grand ideas on what education should be or could be. Yet some of these same educators have little (if any) evidence of taking action, or even how to take action. They spend too much time in the clouds because they are primarily thinkers.
On the flip side you have people in the grind working every second of every day. These are some of the most work efficient educators you know. They are not continually thinking with others and not taking time to reflect because that would be a waste of time. These people will complain about funding, how the systems traps them, and how curriculum and testing dictates their classroom. You may hear them say things like "wish I had time for that" or "When can I get back to my classroom?". They spend too much time in the dirt because they are the hustlers.
Then there is the middle. The middle is the minutia that we all get caught up in. Spinning and getting nowhere, working but gaining nothing. This is the details that really don't matter. These things we can outsource to technology, have others maintain, problems we can prevent, or may not really be important at all. Too much time and energy is spent here. If we spent time in the clouds thinking of a better system and spent time in the dirt making it happen the middle would take care of itself.
After school yesterday I got to spend time with people who do an amazing job finding the balance between the clouds and dirt in our grading for learning meetup. People in this meeting are fed up with the way grading is traditionally done and have ideas in the clouds on how to make it better for the kids in their classroom with their content. Equally important, and just as inspiring, was seeing examples of how these teachers are in the dirt making it happen because they have been able to see what is good for kids they get after it in their classroom however they can. There is no one way to get after it and if you spend too much time thinking about it you won't actually do anything. These teachers are doing what they can with where they are to make grading better. The people in this group push the edges on the clouds and the dirt. Balance between these happens when someone knows the things they are best at that only they can do, and spends time doing those things.
As I've said before I enjoy drawing on ideas of entrepreneurs and showing how they apply to education. The concepts of "clouds and dirt" are no exception. This verbiage came from Gary Vaynerchuck. Check out his video on it below.
(Warning: do not watch in a classroom full of kids he does drop a few choice words)
Thank you Gary for putting out content that makes me think. Thank you teachers in my grading for learning meetup for modeling great thinking and great action.