Notes and Reflections by feoMike


this past week on npr morning addition, as the often do, they played a conversation from story corps. it was this conversation between a teacher and a former student. this conversation gave me chills. the conversation is between a high school teacher and a past student of his who didn’t graduate high school. it gave me chills again as i re-listened to it. perhaps because it hits at one root of being human; the need for being accepted and belonging as roger talks about not wanting to disappoint his former teacher. perhaps it gave me chills because i could hear the dedication in the voice of antero garcia, the teacher, when he asks “how could i have reached out to you better?” in this moment garcia is doing what every teacher i have ever met does; seeking for the next tool, the next asset, the next approach to reach kids and make them successful.

perhaps it gave me chills when i heard this because i am married to a high school teacher and i see this obsession for success in reaching kids first hand. i see the constant drive to improve; the constant search for adding modern metaphors to literature already read countless times, the undying dedication in searching for improved ways to connect, and indeed exhausting every effort to try something new which will have an impact. as roger in the storycorps puts it when he describes his view of good teachers, as those who “pay attention” to the kids.

as i listened to story corps, garcia intended to reach kids, but as importantly he intended to constantly improve on reaching kids. this is perhaps what struck me the most; the goal wasn’t the goal (lets assume passing his class, or graduating high school). the goal is to constantly improve. i will say again, in my experience knowing something about teachers, like garcia, most teachers do this. their goal is to constantly improve.

when i translate these kinds of stories into my own work, i see all kinds of gaps in how we define success. why isn’t the goal of technology in government to constantly improve? perhaps in some places it is, but as i look across the landscape of my profession, what i see is people constantly selling their previous solution for advancing a metric, as opposed to simply wanting to constantly improve. why aren’t we interested in constantly searching for the next thing that will bring an innovative solution to the core business rather than letting some large software company or platform do that for us? why aren’t we more like garcia?