"If Only We Had the Time and Money…"

By Andrew Epstein, Synapse Learning Design

"If only we had the time and money," is a mantra all too familiar to teachers. Many great ideas about how to improve the quality of schools and classrooms die on these words. This not to say that there is a dearth of ideas, small and large, that would do wonders to the uneven reputation of our public education system. On the contrary, many of these ideas are in practice here and there all over the country. Great ideas can be realized. More time and money would be nice, but don't let these needlessly derail your ideas too quickly.

Great ideas need three things:

  • vision
  • passion
  • community support
Patience helps too, because the funding sources will eventually follow.

Start with a clear vision

A clear vision demonstrates that you've thought through your idea. It enables you to communicate a detailed picture of what could be and how to get there. Put your vision in writing and bounce it off your colleagues and students. Show it to those you think will potentially be in opposition to your idea. They will give you insights to help you refine your vision.

Passionate advocates

All the best projects that have made a difference in students' and teachers' lives have another thing in common: passionate advocates. If you feel passionate about your idea, nothing will earn you more support. It's contagious. It's also energizing and keeps us going when all seems lost. The most memorable teachers are usually the most passionate about what they're teaching. It's the same with great ideas.

Find partners

Finally, remember this: you can't do it alone. Find partners who support your vision, particularly from parents and other community members. It's easy sometimes to forget that your local community is the public in public education. Find parents, professionals, business owners, community organizations, and civic associations and turn them on to your vision. Ask for letters of support, forums to voice your ideas, and enlist your new partners to spread the word.

In this section of TeacherVision, case studies will be presented to illustrate how some great ideas were hatched with few resources. We hope they will motivate you to be an agent of change in your school, district, and community. And we hope that you'll stick with your vision, despite the lack of time or money.

Featured case studies:

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