by Stephen Ritz
Green Bronx Machine Founder & TEDx Speaker
At PBL World 2016, keynoter Stephen Ritz issued a “call to action” for PBL teachers and leaders.
For a PBL fan and champion like me, this is our collective moment. We are living in truly amazing times. In our hyper-connected, hyper-local and increasingly global world of do-ers, makers, tinkerers, innovators, disruptors, and creators, now more than ever there are endless and expanding sets of collisions, connections, and co-learning with the goal to MAKE EPIC HAPPEN!
Nothing thrills me more than to wake up daily determined to do and make something great, to leave the world slightly better than I found it and to positively impact other people. When I started on my path toward the Green Bronx Machine, the “end in mind” for my project was not epic. It was not a garden, not 35,000 pounds of vegetables, not a center involving hundreds of people. My end in mind was simply to focus on the zone of proximal development for learners, and to move students beyond engaged to making them contributors to the process, committed and results oriented.
Epic builds upon and demands small collective victories that combine what you feel compelled to do with what you are paid to do. Epic involves collective decision-making and honesty, rigor and integrity from teachers and administrators. Epic involves a sense of support – of collegiality, collaboration and accountability, top down and bottom up, wholly systemic – with a mindset that we are all in this together and that the sum far exceeds the total of the individual parts. Epic means teachers and administrators feel free to take chances, to explore risk and reward.
Epic can start with a PBL project of any size, about anything that matters to you and your kids and communities. My work all started with a seed, one plant at a time, one student at a time. To this very day, I claim to be a people farmer – I treat my children as seeds and those seeds represent their potential. Yes, we grow vegetables, but our vegetables grow students, schools, people and communities.
I am honored to be the 2016 PBL Champion and have a simple mandate for all: embrace the moment and MAKE EPIC HAPPEN! We can do this! We are the heroes we are waiting for! SI SE PUEDE!