June 18 marked a momentous occasion for our team – the official launch of the Higher-Powered Learning Program (HPLP) in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis! After months of anticipation and careful preparation, our cohort of 30 leaders and teacher-leaders from five schools joined forces to begin our three-year journey together.
In our closing session on the program’s first day, Fr. Nate used an analogy that we find extremely helpful to those who are just beginning their blended-learning programs. If you’re thinking about starting a blended-learning program or are in the midst of trying to launch one, you may find this analogy as reassuring as the members of HPLP did.
Have you ever seen a rocket launch? Though it doesn’t take much time at all in the grand scheme of things for the rocket to shoot from the ground to outer space, the rocket spends a disproportionate amount of timing hovering right above the ground, burning fuel and blowing smoke for what feels like an eternity before it shoots into the air. In order for the rocket to gather the speed and energy it needs to soar, it has to work really hard to gather momentum even before it looks like it’s moving at all. Only after this seemingly endless period of burning fuel with little to no movement does the rocket finally summon the strength it needs to take off.
And this is not dissimilar to the start of a blended-learning program. In the beginning, teachers and leaders often feel like they are working their absolute hardest and burning all of their fuel without going anywhere. I think it’s safe to say that the beginning of HPLP felt a bit like this as the members wrestled with the core concepts of blended learning, created resources, scripted procedures, planned lessons, and so much more, all in a matter of three days in the summer! We ensure that the members of our program go above and beyond to prepare for the school year. It always pays off in September and October, but it seems very overwhelming in June and July.
Putting in so much work to transform your classroom or school in the beginning of your blended-learning program can sometimes feel futile. You might feel like a rocket–burning through all of the fuel in your tank and moving only imperceptibly. But the good news is that rockets don’t stay at ground zero for long, and neither will you.
After a period of putting in so much work and feeling like you may never go anywhere, you will eventually take off, and you will soar. Investing time and energy at the beginning will allow your blended-learning program to take flight. Eventually you will be effortlessly cruising towards outer space rather than revving your engine every day.
We are well aware that the first few days of HPLP felt like the beginning of a rocket launch, and we are so excited to watch as our teams begin to soar after putting in so much hard work up front. Stay tuned to hear more about our journey this year!