Unlearning the need to wait for permission

Seeing an opportunity to make something better & diving right in - Transforming ugly, unused lockers into an "Avenue of Learning"

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph
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Just stumbled upon this fabulous project undertaken by teachers in Biloxi. Tired of looking at the green, ugly, and--unused for 15 years due to security reasons--lockers that lined their hallway, two teachers took on the initiative to paint the lockers to look like book spines. With the help of other teachers and volunteers they have now painted over 189 lockers and transformed their hallway into an "Avenue of Literature" bursting with color and titles reflecting every reading level, which they hope will surprise and delight their students in the fall. Read more about the project here - Teachers Transform Lockers into Book Spines

What I loved about this project, beyond the fact that it is beautiful, creative and aims to inspire wonder and a love of learning in students, is the sense of ownership that it reflects. Teachers saw an opportunity to make something better and dove right in. There are many great contributions on here that speak to the need of reframing failure as a building block to learning and the need to create contexts that reward and encourage risk taking. I think one aspect at the heart of this paradigm shifting effort is to address the sense of permission that everyone has within a community. All too often we shy away from owning the change we want to drive because of a perceived lack of permission to do so. If we are to build cultures of innovation, it is critical to empower everyone in the community with a sense of permission to be leaders and designers of positive change. 


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Photo of Becka Nathan

Says a lot about the power relationship between student and teacher, too. How do we 'manage' our classroom and also allow students to have the freedom to not ask permission?

Photo of Tom Sayer

And the more challenging the classroom, the harder this will be. My guess would be that in a particularly challenging classroom, when you give responsibility to the students, 90% will respond positively. There needs to be a mechanism for the 10% who do not, without letting it break the whole system.

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