How often do others get to witness the great things that happen in your classroom, school, or district? Well, of course, the students see it regularly, but how about others?
Likely, it’s not that often. This could be for a variety of reasons, but often we in education are not able to share the great things that we are doing, because we are so busy doing them! Recognition can seem sporadic, at best, but we don’t enter this profession to be thanked or recognized; rather, we enter the field of education as a calling to serve others. So many educators all over the world are doing amazing things in their classrooms, but some of it is going unnoticed.
Here’s a simple project that can have profound and lasting changes on the culture of a classroom, school, district, or educational organization. It’s called ‘Operation Fred‘ and it is incredible!
Operation Fred is a project to recognize educators for the great things happening in classrooms and schools everywhere. Inspired by Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter, the story of effecting successful change in any environmental challenge, I realized that all educators should know the story of Fred the penguin. Fred is the main character in John Kotter’s fable about the actionable steps necessary to effect and lead change in the face of adversity. Fred succeeded in effecting change through his own and others’ actions, and all of those actions represent the actions we in education are doing on a daily basis.
We live in a changing environment of education, where the complexities facing classrooms and schools are ever increasing. While it can sometimes feel like our individual actions as educators don’t make any impact, it is important to realize that we collectively influence significant success for students everywhere. This project helps to communicate that message to all educators to encourage everyone to reflect on the great things that are already happening and perhaps effect necessary change in areas where things could be even better. Effecting change in education occurs best through educators acknowledging their strengths, sharing success, and collaborating around what works in education. Entire organizations are dedicated to making this happen, such as Edutopia, but we often neglect the resource of our own classrooms and schools to acknowledge and share success.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A copy of Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter
- A stuffed penguin
- A copy of Fred the Penguin’s open letter to educators
Here’s how the project works:
- Obtain the three items you’ll need for the project
- Deliver the three items to a deserving educator in your area, but do this in a top-secret delivery
- Let the penguin do the rest!
You can customize Fred’s letter to fit your school or organization. To capture Fred’s travels, you might consider setting up a moderated email-to-post blog where educators can share their experiences with Fred during their visit, post pictures or video of what Fred get’s to see while he visits classrooms, or Fred can have an online journal to inspire other educators. Alternatively, if doing this project secretively isn’t possible, the exchange of Fred the Penguin can be done at a staff meeting and report-outs from those who got to host Fred can be shared at subsequent staff meetings.
I was visited by Fred the Penguin in my second year teaching, four years ago. It was a book and experience that really influenced me. I have always wanted to share Operation Fred with other educators. If all goes well, Fred the penguin will make his rounds to many classrooms or buildings to witness many great things. Fred’s visit will encourage educators to focus on their strengths–the things that they are doing in their classroom that are great–and share them. Others will come to know more of the great things happening in classrooms everywhere. Many educators will read come to know Fred’s story and be inspired as to how their actions can have a significant impact in their schools and the greater education community.
Image: Fred the Penguin by Peter Mueller, courtesy of Kotter International
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