When teachers, administrators, and researchers join forces to implement a new educational project, a number of considerations typically arise. Having been involved in a number of such programs, including the ones described in part II, I now have a sense of what to expect when embarking on such a collaboration. Recently I was reviewing progress and problems that have characterized one of our newest projects: an after-school program in which children are encouraged to develop their literate and thinking skills through their participation in engaging projects. I was struck by the following points which turn out to be applicable across our range of projects:
Difficulties of innovation.It is very difficult to initiate an effective new program. Unexpected obstacles arise frequently; team members find themselves working at cross-purposes; sudden setbacks are almost the rule. Participants swing from optimism to pessimism, sometimes seeing the glass as half full, sometimes as half empty. I can convey the mood by describing a conversation that I overheard between two colleagues who were involved in setting up our innovative after-school program:
Optimist (speaking with glee, at the end of a day where students had become fully engaged in the staging of a play): "Boy, this is the best day we've ever had!"
Pessimist (looking down at the ground, speaking despondently): "Yeah, yeah, pal, that's the problem."