This summer at church we have been focusing on the many parables that Jesus tells and how we can apply them to our lives. Our pastor often tells us that parables are shallow enough for children to wade in and deep enough for an elephant to swim in. I have found this description beautifully simple and profoundly insightful.
Parables were used to help make sense of some very complicated ideas. The idea is that even for a small child, they can hear, understand and enjoy the parables at their own level. Yet as we revisit those parables throughout our lives, there is still enough depth to them that we can continue to get greater meaning and insight from them.
As an educator I think about this concept all the time. How do you make an idea both simple enough for the child, beginning learner, to grasp and yet deep enough for the elephant, the advanced learner, to immerse their whole selves in the learning? It is about creating depth of knowledge for all learners. It is the struggling of trying to take all students from where they are at and make each lesson important and relevant to them.
I am no longer in the classroom, but now I am an administrator and I find this challenge even more daunting with my staff. I am constantly pushing myself to find a way to help all of my teachers improve their craft, or at the bare minimum, get something out of my meetings.
With every concept that I present or discuss, I have teachers who are only beginning to wade in the ideas, others who are ready to dive in deep and explore and still others who are already swimming around. This dichotomy is even more pronounced with the integration of technology. We are beginning a 1:1 technology program at my school and my biggest challenge is going to be supporting all of my teachers from where they are at to where they need to go.
So this summer, while I prepare for the start of school, I will continue to seek the ways in which I can provide my teachers with the different levels of support they need. For some I will offer them the opportunity and encouragement to get their feet wet and to begin to wade into the vast world of technology. And for others, I will help them to navigate the deep waters and help them to take on the challenges of swimming further away from shore.
Hopefully, through the course of this year they will all gain the confidence to take the plunge.