Dive Into Uncertainty


2014-15 School Year Goals: “Dive Into the River of Uncertainty”

“Dive again and again into the river of uncertainty. Create in the dark, only then can you recognize the light.”
― Jyrki Vainonen

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming school year. What our class environment needs to be, and where we need to go. To start the year, I like to anchor our vision in a quote, or theme. After a few days of discussion, the students will work with me to sharpen this vision, and make it their own.

This year, the theme is “Dive Into Uncertainty”. These three words embody much of what I believe is critical to creating a safe learning environment where we can take risks and embrace mistakes as part of the learning process.

Dive: Learning is a fun, messy endeavor. We’re not sticking our toe in the safe area, or wading in the easy shallow end.

Into: We will be fully invested. Splashing in the deep end.

Uncertainty: We’re here to learn about what we don’t know. We’re not so much looking for answers, as we are searching questions. We’re getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

As the lead learner in my class, I have a few goals.

My DIVE into uncertainty:
Discover – ways to work along side students through flipping math instruction.
Invite – PLN into my classroom to call me higher through skypes & critiques.
Validate – confirm & affirm each student’s unique talents and voice.
Engage – connect with world through “Walking for Water” project, global read-aloud, and author skypes.

Class’ DIVE into uncertainty:
Discover – new genres, authors, characters and worlds through 30 / 40 book challenge.
Invite – share our passion & compassion through “Big Idea” (genius hour) projects; kindness reflection blogs.
Validate – confirm facts, truths, and ideas through research and close reading; validate our peers through support & encouragement.
Engage – with world through kidblog, “Walking for Water” project, biography project with literary agent.

There will be other manifestations of the Dive Into Uncertainty theme this year. I lead a run club of over 100 students at our school, and a math club that is nearly the same size. Each of these groups will have their own ways to embrace the theme. I’m also trying to take a more active role in shaping the literacy philosophy in our building. I’ll be engaging students and staff in ways to push beyond their limits as they share the final weeks of preparation for my fall ultramarathon. And I will also be spending time in class working on writing my second novel, authentically modeling the entire writing process for my students.

I’m not sure how the year will go, what challenges will be awaiting for us in the murky waters, or how the students and I will find our sea legs, but that is the fun of the journey. We will dive in together, uncertain of how we will fare, but certain of the fun to be shared as a team.



11 thoughts on “Dive Into Uncertainty

  1. Great blog post & great start for your year!

    I love how you’ve thought it all through. I do a similar thing, but not quite so detailed. This year I’m focusing on a Lao Tzu quote, “Wonder Into wonder existence opens.” I think it will allow us a chance to explore ourselves and our world through our writing, reading and the science class I’m teaching this year. (I even made a meme for it with a picture I took of my son on our vacation this year. I’m printing this and posting it in my class. https://mscoleqvps.makes.org/thimble/LTY1NzMyMzUy/meme-maker

    I want it to help me focus in on the accountable talk aspect I want to build into my classroom allowing the students to lead their learning more & see me move off the stage.

    I want to build their wonder & show that their thoughts are valid, not just getting the right answer.

    I want it to allow for goal setting and for failure, because with failure we grow and existence leads us elsewhere. Another quote I love is, “If plan A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool.”

    Thanks for great inspiration and getting my brain rolling as I dive into adapting my long range plans for my new goals today!



    • I love the “Wonder into Wonder” quote! Our mindsets sound very similar – creating classrooms where we embrace mistakes as part of learning. I look forward to following along your wonderful journey, hearing of all the new insights and experiences from your class this year. Best wishes!


  2. You’ve made uncertainty seem engaging and fun! When teachers and students are able to build that climate of trust and acceptance, we can take risks and meet challenges. Makes me want to dive right in!


  3. What a great approach! Setting a theme for the year makes so much sense–wish I had done the same!

    In particular love “Validate – confirm & affirm each student’s unique talents and voice.” It’s so important that we never lose the focus that each student is an individual who deserves to be recognized and praised for what they bring to each and every class.

    Your goals and the fact that you “run” two large student clubs speaks to how your students view you and respect your efforts. Keep up the great work!


  4. Classroom culture (along with school culture) lays the foundation for learning. Your students will be blessed with a positive experience as they DIVE into learning! Love the perspective of taking risks and embrace mistakes – applies to all of us…students, teachers, and administrators! Enjoy!


  5. Greg, It is great that you are taking the plunge with your students! The will benefit from see how the struggles are resolved into successes and help you along the way! Good luck in your ultra marathon! You are living inspiration for your students!
    -Jennifer #2 #compelledtribe


  6. Greg, great acronym and theme to start off the year. I appreciate that you are creating a vision with your students. Thanks for sharing!


  7. Greg – I love your theme for this year. Your goals seem to fit so well & you’ve really given it a lot of thought. I have no doubt that your students will join you in diving in for a great learning experience!


  8. I love your perspective and thought that you put into your blog posts. The acronym DIVE will serve your students well this year as well as provide you a roadmap for success. I’m excited to see how your year goes! Thank you for sharing.


  9. Reading this makes me wish I were in your class! It reminds me of my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Holloway.He had so much passion for what he did, and he made every student feel special. With this theme, he would have had pictures and posters to remind us, and we would have had activities that had to do with diving. Thank you for sharing with vividness and clarity your goals for this year. Your students are about to embark on an incredible journey with you!


Comments are closed.