A critical element of agile learning is reflection. Each learning cycle is defined by three steps: define, do, and decipher. At the end of a sprint cycle, we typically call the deciphering step a retrospective.

But by whatever name you use, this last step is a critical time of discernment. It is that time when the experience sits within us. It sits there waiting. Waiting to be understood. Waiting to provide insight. To provide some wisdom that helps illuminate our path forward as we move into our next learning cycle.

So it is with this story.

For in this discernment one deciphers the meaning of the journey. Something that can be shared. Wisdom that can help guide others. An ultimate boon, perhaps.

a definition

Let’s start our reflection with a single word, the beginning of creating meaning to share with others. The definition of a word matters. And so let’s begin with the meaning of ‘matter’.


It is a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means something that is physical. That which is not mind. That which is not spirit.

Something we can touch. Something that is real.

That which makes up the material world. Our world. Baryonic matter.

And then there is its definition as a verb: something that it is important. Something that has significance.

When Jami and I embarked on this journey, there was nothing but an aspiration, an intention, a dream held in the realm of ideas. We both believed, in our hearts, that we could reimagine education in her school. But, at the outset, there was nothing real. Just the belief that this aspiration was critically important, not only for our students, but for our country and beyond.

What then, were those elements that were important in this journey, that enabled it to become real, something that could be seen and felt by others – such that it became, in a sense, matter.

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