Thursday, September 01, 2011

Lesson From Back to School Night

I do not always look forward to the "Back to School Night" ritual that happens each year in our schools. As an involved parent I appreciate meeting the teachers, but have come to believe the format is stale and does not often provide any new information (it is the same agenda my parents had when I was in school).

Last night I was blown away by how excited I was about my high school freshman's teachers, school, and what this means for her future.  She attends a public magnet school program for math and science.  The expectations and culture are very different my high school experience, and I enjoyed hearing from each teacher.  I was inspired by the challenges and opportunities she fill face this year.

The highlight of the night was meeting the "Sci-Tech" teacher and learning about this unique program.  It a mechanical engineering class required of all freshmen, and the students will work on a variety of projects throughout the semester that will engage them in ways I never imagined in school.

My favorite part is the journal they must keep in this class.  Each day every student must answer (in detail) the following five questions:

1.  What did I do or learn today?

2. What will I do or learn tomorrow?

3. What is my current progress: short term and long term?

4. What environmental factors or people influenced my productivity today? (identify setbacks or problems).

5. What did my teammates do today?

Think for a minute if grown-ups in real jobs had to reflect each day on our successes and failures in such a manner.  I am not talking about a typical HR annual review, but a focused reflection on each day.  WOW.  What if these young men and women learn from this experience to be this introspective about their progress for the rest of their lives --- I imagine the sky would be the limit.  I wonder what more I might have accomplished if I had experienced these lessons when I was 14-years-old.

I did not show up at Back to School Night expecting to be impacted.  I have not been able to stop thinking about the power in these questions for the business professionals whom I train and consult.  This morning I worked these five questions (giving full credit to the high school Sci-Tech program) into a speech to twenty people from a variety of careers.  BOOM!, they were all captivated by thought of the results that would come if they had the discipline to ask these questions every day.

What do you think?

CHALLENGE:.  Purchase a small notebook and write these questions on page one.  Everyday for the next month end your workday by pondering your experiences and recording the answers to the five questions.  I imagine if any of us really did this we would see more productivity and creativity spark in our lives.  

Have A Great Day.

thom singer


Maritta Terrell said...

Thank you very much Thom!
I mentioned this website in the West Austin II summary email!

steve_golab said...

Thom, great idea. Let's both do it and then reconvene and share our notes. I'm in!

thomsinger said...

Steve Golab- you are on! I started my journal today.

thomsinger said...

Two days into this and the level of introspection is already seeming to have an impact on me. Looking forward to see what I find by day 30.