What will you do with what you have learned?

At the end of last week’s nearly 60 hours of intensive coursework, one of our University of Pennsylvania professors put these questions to us: What will you do now? Will your education change you? Or will you go back to doing what you’ve always done?

The professor, Rahul Kapoor, had taught a challenging course on tech strategy, where we learned about disruptive innovation, “S-curves,” how Google is competing with Apple and what patent trolls do for a living.

Thanks to a Harvard Business School simulation called Back Bay Battery, I also learned how badly I would misstep if I were the one in charge of R&D spending for a corporation. Losses of $675 million! Do not hire me for this.

But this conclusion to the course was his biggest challenge for us. Our cohort of 24 graduate students had invested our time and money in a demanding 13-month educational adventure. None of us needed this credential, and most of us already have jobs.

So, then, what will come of our new knowledge?

It’s not a question I can answer for myself yet, but it’s a good question for all teachers to consider as August approaches and we look to a new school year.

Many of us have spent time this summer on the other side of the desk — learning new subjects, new teaching strategies, new technology, new classroom management tips. Summer is when we get fired up and replenished with new ideas, but what happens then?

All too often, we report back to school and quickly become swamped by meetings, lesson plans, seating charts and new email systems. Fresh ideas are forgotten, and new binders are tucked away in closets for “when we have time.”

We need a system for holding ourselves accountable, for becoming the teachers we want to be in July, when everything feels possible.

My idea is simple: Get a notebook and a calendar. Write down your new ideas, and set dates for checking back in with yourself. Program them into your phone or gmail, so it pops up on September 29, October 24, November 15, reminding you “I am going to simulate the Constitutional Convention” or “I will try a student-centered discussion in Algebra.”

Better yet, challenge a colleague to hold you accountable, and do the same for him or her. Capture the passion you feel right now, and don’t let it gather dust in your desk this fall.

Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to figure out what to do with my newfound business acumen — and wrapping up my last few papers.

FYI – The program is UPenn’s Masters in Education Entrepreneurship. You can learn about it here: https://www.gse.upenn.edu/tll/ee

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