Brain Torrential Downpours

A lot of people look down on brainstorming. They may say ideas you generate in the brainstorm don’t pan out once leave or that you need to take classes in order to do it well. Neither are true. While you may not solve the world’s problems in a one hour session with some of your coworkers, there is very real value in being mentally present and creating something new with other passionate people. Brainstorming is the act of enabling the conversations that come next.

One such conversation was started because of a whiteboard sitting in an office on the 7th floor of 900 grant street. Because of a few dry erase markers, I was brought into a conversation about how an assessment might be used as a catalyst.  Because of the simple whiteboard (nothing inherently smart about it), the thoughts written on it created an environment where an assessment could be the spark of innovation.

And it was Amy Keltner’s voice that conveyed that message. She spoke of a vision for using the spaghetti monster that is the PARCC assessment to shift our approach to learning. Her brainstorming and her voice suggests that she is trying to get the right people in the room to think about how something is far-reaching (but unsexy) as the PARCC assessment becomes a force for change.

It is clear, too, that she likes to create things. Through conversations like these, she sees the ability to define the future of education. And, that is not something small. Those who have the capacity for great collaboration are few and far between. People that have the ability to create vision with others in the space of a whiteboard and then articulate it across a table should be studied and emulated.

In the end, we should not be frightened of our brainstorms. They are not dark clouds that descend upon our work and don’t let us get to the important things on our agenda. In fact, the only thing that brainstorms “rain” is ideas. The best ones create torrential downpours. My hope is that I get to rain often with people that don’t look at assessments as a necessary evil, but instead look at them as an opportunity for creation.

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