Just Ship It

Both the most amazing and the trickiest aspect of being an Education Innovation Fellow is the sheer number of amazing things we see in a short amount of time. For example, at a Fellowship program day a few weeks ago, we saw two schools and dozens of classrooms in just the first two hours of the day. Before we had even settled in for lunch, my notebook had four pages filled with notes and “!!!” next to the things I had seen.

As a planner who likes to execute things very intentionally, having so many ideas thrown at me has taken some adjusting. If I had my way, I would spend about a week just planning before I implement anything in my classroom or at my school. As of yet, I haven’t found a school that gives such allowances.

Likewise, I’ve had to shift how I view changes in my classroom. A good friend of mine works for a bootstrap startup that is always changing everything. At some point, when making these changes, they have to say, “Just ship it.” As in, “It’s not 100% done, but too bad: Let’s try it out and see what happens.”

Given the ambitious things I’m trying in my technology class (for example, video production for fourth graders; third graders making Google Doc-powered books about inventors of their own choosing) there has been a lot of “just shipping it.”

Has it been clean and neat and perfect? Nope! It has been messy, frustrating, and filled with changes. What my Monday class gets is usually pretty different from what my Friday class gets. And that’s okay!

While I would love for every class to be neat with a little bow at the top, that’s not how real life works. If anything, I’m better preparing my kiddos for a world that creates a rapid prototype, improves upon it, and re-ships, even if it means that my room doesn’t always look like the typical classroom.

Blair Mishleau, 2015 Education Innovation Fellow
KIPP DC Heights Academy


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