"No lesson plan survives contact with teenagers."
-Chip and Dan Heath, Made To Stick
The Heath Brothers derived this clever little saying from the classic military proverb, "No plan survives contact with the enemy," and their version is no less potent. As I said to a student teacher yesterday, "Teaching is a constant process of monitoring where the students are and adjusting your strategies." (Sort of life life, as a matter of fact: constantly adjusting your strategies.) That's why we need a core message.
Made To Stick promises to be chock full of gritty lessons for teaching: like their concept of a core message. They call it "Commmander's intent" because military commanders use it. Knowing they can't dictate every move of every soldier in the battlefield, commanders communicate their core, key intent, like "protect the flank." This gives each soldier under that command a guiding principal that's always true no matter the circumstances--something she can fall back on if everything else about the plan falls apart, even if she's the last one standing. It's got to be a short, easy-to-remember and pithy statement of what's really important.
So what's my "core message" as a teacher and aspiring school leader?
I'm pretty sure it will look something like this:
"Every student engaged"