Welcome to Complexity

 

Teaching fractions invariably involves talking about food. It’s the most relatable way to teach kids about a part of a whole.

Three-fourths is a baseline fraction and a pretty good part to hold.

Have three-fourths of a cookie? You probably won’t complain.

Three-fourths of a pepperoni pizza? Probably no complaints unless of course you are a vegetarian.

Three-fourths of $100? You are $75 richer and ready to treat everyone.

Generally speaking, three-fourths of anything is pretty good.

That is, of course, until we start talking about our schools right now.
I’ve spoken with educators in several districts and watched as other schools deal with the complexity of operating right now.

Every administrator I’ve talked to is dealing with absences that are impacting school. Students quarantined after a family member tests positive. Teachers and classmates quarantined because of safety protocols. Students quarantined after traveling. Every day, we add multiple students and staff to our lists of those not able to be present in school.

Having one-fourth of your student population and staff missing at any given time introduces more complexity into an already overly complex system.

There are substitute shortages everywhere so when a teacher is out suddenly, there is nowhere for students to go. Students at home quarantining for ten days or more still need instruction. Managing remote students and in person students is difficult at best. There are less hands to help serve lunches in the cafeteria, and late buses running multiple routes because of a driver shortage.

Welcome to Complexity, Population About 3/4.

And that’s on a good day. As a manager of all this complexity, it’s overwhelming. Trying just to keep everything simply running often feels like slamming into one barrier after another. As soon as you overcome an obstacle, there are three more in its place, ready to knock you from your perch.

It’s incredibly difficult, extremely exhausting, but most of all, too complex.

It’s a lesson in fractions that none of us want to (or should be) dealing with.

Welcome to Complexity, Population About 3/4.

Hopefully, none of us are planning on staying long term.

 

Rich