Do you have what it takes to make the Next Generation #EduPitCrew?
Pic courtesy of Fox News/Holly Cain

Sundays are synonymous for many with watching their favorite sports on the big screen; living vicariously through seasonal change with NHL, NFL, MLB, MBA, and what led me to write this blog-NASCAR! While viewing NASCAR Countdown, the video shows a “Next Generation Tryout” system that Hendrick Racing uses for recruiting pit crew members to their elite organization. I was engrossed as I viewed the intensity each player exuded focusing on a personal best performance striving to make the team. In that moment I realized that there is a huge take away that can be applied to what is happening in education. The point being that each member contributes to a team and brings a unique drive, passion, work ethic, life developed skill, experience, grit, determination, perseverance, and a need to work together towards a common goal. Individuals bring strengths and weaknesses that need to be equalized to avoid being lapped on the proverbial track. The goal in NASCAR obviously is to win races, and the pit crew team’s performance, in a split second, can mean the difference of getting the win or falling back in the field. The members that make up the pit crew are critical to the team’s outcome. The pit crew is critical to the organization which is dynamic; and includes owner, driver, manager, body crew, engine crew/engineers, crew chief, and pit crew. The organization’s performance is constantly critiqued by sponsors and fans. Much like an educational organization which is complex and multifaceted. The EduPitCrew includes superintendents, principals, guidance, departments, grade levels, teachers and support staff. The schools are consistently critiqued by community members, parents, and students. A fine tuned team that works in sync creates a powerful synergy that pulls ahead of the rest on the track. When the team works as a cohesive group where by the sum of its parts is the ability of the group, it will outperform even its best individual member every time. If educators embrace this system the organization will increase horsepower and sling shot to success!

photos courtesy of &

     Educators, Start Your Semi-Conductors!
     So what does a winning EduPitCrew look like? The system should consider following the MAGNAFLUX process. So let’s detail the process. Magnaflux is the examining of systemic parts, consideration of elements in suspension (effectiveness of communication), connecting fluid factors (effectiveness of collaborative teamwork), checking for cracks and other defects using a solution. Active engagement in Magnaflux by all constituents are required for winning performance. The systemic goal must be looked at through a 21st Century lens to ready students to use critical thinking & problem solving, creativity & innovation, communication & collaboration, as well as information, media & technology skills. It is much like manufacturing a race car, educational leaders must look at the system from the inside out; from the engine to the paint scheme.
     In a Jan. 2012 article, “Inside NASCAR: ‘Fuel Injection a Really Big Step’ stated that NASCAR has used the same carburetor for the past 40 years. “The technology’s moved on. It’s time to move on.” -Harold Comstock. The sport says goodbye to the carburetor and welcomes EFI (electronic fuel injection). He continues, “In many ways, the engine will be more efficient because we can give exactly the right amount of fuel to each cylinder that it needs.” Pit row is open, the educational system needs to lead a lap. When leaving the pit box, the message needs to start with the drivers (the individuals). The race day strategy must consider the course but not allow it to over power the goal. The goal is for the driver to be a life-long committed learner, driven by interest and a passion to learn as much as possible. Educators need to take a self-directed learning path to hone their skills. Educators that are encouraged by the organization to take risks and are supported through the entire process model innovation and creation which impacts their colleagues and students in new ways which lead to systemic efficacy. 
     As we approach corner one on the track, let’s take a look at suspension. Suspension is being used in the context of postponing judgement. Idea exchange and honest feedback is disseminated. At times this proves to be an uncomfortable ride. Critical feedback is necessary at all organizational levels. Discourse needs to happen in clear, unemotional ways. I suggest that critical feedback be accepted as input. Input comes in and the driver analyzes the feedback and chooses whether it can improve the performance, thought, idea, project, prototype, model, creation, etc. Critical feedback is necessary to generate change and growth. As stated in my previous blog, “The smartest person in the world, is the world When we are open to input we have the world’s thinkers available to help to move the idea/project/goal forward. 
     The drivers pull ahead to corner two, fluid factors are at work as team members draft for position. Organizational leaders need to guide the team down the social media chute. Educators must be shown the Magnitude of Twitter Social media is an untapped resource that provides educators with intense horse power. Collaboration with other online educators revved my engine. I was exposed to an enormous amount of educational practices during qualifying. My starting position input was used to better my personal teaching practice and the result is a direct benefit to the students I am entrusted with and opens communication with parents. A great amount of self-directed work was completed. Feedback and reflections furthered adjustments. Failures will happen and the experience and input will be used to learn and adjust. When educators tap into the passion that drove them to become educators in the first place, do the self-directed work, collaborate with others utilizing all means of resources (face to face, conferences, social media, podcasts, webinars, free online learning as well as college classes) and are open to receive the critical feedback as input to reflect and rethink their thinking–it gives the driver an advantage on the track when the restart is signaled.
     Soon the drivers bank corner three, it’s time to check for cracks and other defects in the system before getting to the black and white checkered flag at the finish line. This is a shared responsibility by the EduPitCrew and should be a transparent process. Each team needs to gauge effectively their role in the system. Using the Potential Hazard scale example found in the Magnitude of Twitter post, the model can be a starting place for determining the levels of connectivity and the effectiveness of the system. Aerodynamics are good, members use their talents collectively to move the organization at great speeds across the finish line for a win. The win today is celebrated and can be learned from in preparation for the next track-the next race-(the next school year-the next student) that your EduCrewPit will have an impact on. Using the Magnaflux process, you can be sure that the sponsors and fans (the community members, parents and students) are in the stands cheering you on!

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