Seeing is More Than Believing

When I was a little boy I used to ride the school bus with a classmate. He seemed to be the luckiest boy in the world. He often had these new shiny toys that he would bring to school. I remember being very jealous of seeing his new toys and I often wanted to play with them and take them home. Seeing something that impresses us makes us want it!

This past week I traveled to Kent, Washington to attend their Student Technology Expo. Kent is a rather large school district south of Seattle that holds a large student technology fair. This technology fair highlights what their students are studying and how technology supports their learning. This is a huge event! Thousands of people from the community attend and it is held inside a large hockey arena. There were over 140 student exhibits ranging from 2nd graders who had programmed Lego Robots to 11th graders who were studying engineering and working with 3-D printers.

What impressed me the most about this event was how enthusiastic the students were to share their work. Their excitement was obvious and their passion for their learning was something that I desperately want for all students. I thought to myself, “If all students were this engaged in school, a lot of our problems in education would be solved”.

I often work with school districts and school leaders on how to improve their education systems. One of the main issues that comes up is how to change the organization. Change is not easy, but one of the key components to changing anything in an organization, or in life for that matter, is creating a demand for the change.

As I walked around the Kent Student Technology Expo, I realized how this event could create demand for change. It would allow teachers, administrators, and community members to see and hear about a new vision for teaching and learning. McRel calls this a “Vicarious Experience” or the ability to see others in similar circumstances being successful. If you want to create change in an organization, or in yourself for that matter, one of the first steps is seeing what others are doing successfully. It’s kind of like that new shiny toy on the bus. Once you see something that excites you it begins to formulate a desire inside to achieve it. School leaders can use this as a powerful tool to harness change.

I never got to take my friends toys home but, they definitely created a demand in me to obtain them. That desire was so strong it still is something I can remember to this day. As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that seeing is more than believing, it’s also the boost that we often need to move forward, grow and improve.

Gregg Russell

by Gregg Russell