Darting out towards the placid lake front, rock in tow, he created a huge splash that seemed to wake up the ecosystem. We watched as the perfect concentric circles expanded outward from where the smooth surface had broke. That’s when it dawned on me that we were in the middle of experiencing Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions or its more contemporary name - the Butterfly Effect.
My nephew cast a rock, a seemingly insignificant and isolated event. However, the rock hitting the water could scare baby turtles floating near the surface, driving them into deep water, and possibly toward a predator; the sound of the splash might startle some water birds and cause them to take flight, leaving behind a familiar habitat that provides food and safety. Thankfully, we didn’t see any of that happen, but if these collateral actions take place, they’re all connected back to us...because of a single, momentary decision to throw the rock in the first place.
There is a useful teaching principle tied to this metaphor: Every decision made and Every action taken, as a result of our personal beliefs and assumptions, set ecosystems rippling in motion.
Where am I going? I am glad you asked!
Our actions (relationship building, lesson designing, summative and formative assessments, understanding of the TEKS, levels of engagement and rigor, use of data to inform our practice, patience, loving demeanor, etc.) not only affect the seen, but the unseen