I’m competitive by nature. I’ve always been that way. When I was a kid, I wanted to be first. I wanted to get my way. I wanted to be the leader. As I grew older, I quickly learned that telling others what to do and getting my way wasn’t always the best way to be a leader. Through trial and error, I learned to value teamwork, listen to the perspectives of others and step back and observe. When I began my career in education I soon learned that being competitive with others wasn’t going to get me very far. The only way that I could get better was to push myself and focus on my own behavior. Still, I wanted to be the best. I wanted this for myself, but more importantly for my students.
This summer, after reading Urban Meyer’s book, Above the Line, I learned about the leadership principle of 10-80-10. Donna Mahoney writes of this principle in a 2016 blog post for Sprint Business:
According to the 10-80-10 principle of human behavior, the nucleus of a group—its best or elite performers—represent 10 percent of the team. Outside this nucleus are the 80 percent—the teammates who consistently perform good work–and the bottom 10 percent, which is composed of slackers and other malcontents. At Ohio State, Meyer tried to motivate as many players as possible to move from the middle group into the top one. By the end of the 2014 season, Meyer estimates that 30 percent of his squad were among this nucleus group.
In the following video, Sunjay Nath further explains the 10-80-10 principle.
I want to be among the elite “10 percenters". I want my behavior to be such that I inspire others to be better.
It’s important that we all take a step back and evaluate our behavior. Imagine where our schools could be if we shifted the behaviors of more and more educators into that of the elite 10.
As we reflect on our behavior we need to ask ourselves these questions and answer them honestly:
Where do I want to be?
Who do I want to be?
Am I okay with average?
When faced with a challenge, how do I behave?
How does my behavior impact the performance of those around me?
Am I part of the 10, the 80 or the 10? What behaviors cause me to be part of
Who is part of the elite 10? How do they behave? How must I change my behavior to become part of this group?
And finally, remember, “If you can raise the level of effort and performance of those around you, you are a leader.” Urban Meyer.
What an historic week this was. The most volatile race for the Presidency of all time came to an end. Many of us were surprised and even outraged with the outcome. However, as educators we have an obligation to teach children, the next generation of American voters, about our country without imparting our own views on them. It’s important that we share unbiased facts, no matter how difficult this is to do. We have a direct hand in educating the future of America and we cannot take this lightly.
On Wednesday as I was driving to school I was overcome with sadness and fear for the children who I was going to see in a few short hours. The children in my school are representative of the true meaning of the American melting pot. Of our 515 children, 130 of them speak English as a second language. Our students and their families come from all over the world including Mexico, Palestine, Iraq, and Turkey to name a few. Their families came to America in search of a better life. On that drive to school I was planning the words I wanted to say to them so they would continue to believe that America truly is a place where they are safe and respected. What I could not plan for though, were the questions and concerns they would share with my staff and I soon after they walked through the doors of our school on Wednesday morning.
By 9:30, my guidance counselor and I were making the rounds to classrooms to give children time to share their thoughts and fears about the election results. Nothing could have prepared me for what I heard from our students. Here are some of the thoughts and fears that our 2nd graders shared:
“Maybe if I don’t speak Spanish anymore, he won’t know that I’m Mexican.”
“I’m worried about the wall. If they build it, I won’t be able to see my family.”
“My dad is from Palestine. I’m afraid he’s going to have to go back.”
As my teachers, guidance counselor and I listened to the genuine concerns of our students it was difficult to find the right words. This was our message to them:
You are safe. There are lots good people in this country who will protect you and your family.
One person cannot make all of the rules in America. The people work together to make the rules.
Continue to spread kindness. We are so lucky to come to a school where every day we learn with people from all over the world. We don’t ever want you to hide who you really are. Instead we all need to celebrate one another.
Now more than ever we need to use our influence as educators to spread kindness, to promote tolerance and to celebrate differences. We can make a difference in the lives of children, and now, more than ever a difference needs to be made.
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking to new administrators in my school district. As I walked into the room for my presentation, Jeremy Scally, a colleague of mine, was just finishing up. He was talking about how much he’d learned during his first year of being an administrator. His final words of wisdom to the group were these, “Don’t be part of the silent majority.”
His words stopped me in my tracks. I quickly pulled out my phone and typed those words into my notes. Then, over the next few days, I started noticing times in my life when I am part of the silent majority. So, I started making an effort to recognize individuals who positively impact my life. I began taking just a moment to look people in the eye and simply say, “Thank you so much for all you do.”
It’s so much more common for us to hear from people when they are unsatisfied with us than it is for us to hear from them when they’re happy. But, there are so many more people who are quite happy with all we do for them and their children, they just don’t tell us; they are part of the silent majority.
Let’s all make an effort to break the silence. Let others around you know how much you appreciate them. Don’t be part of the silent majority.
I’m so thankful and happy with many of the experiences that my own children are having this school year. I am planning on making an effort to reach out to two very important people in the lives of my children so they know just how important they are. First is my daughters’ bus driver, Joe. He is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Each day, he picks them up for school with a huge smile on his face. On the way, he plays letter games and sings songs with them. They love him so much.
And I’m also going to reach out to my sons’ math teacher, Mr. Shipley. He cares so deeply about his students. He takes the time to send emails to parents giving us a heads up when a concept they covered in class was difficult for the kids. He lets us know what his plans are to provide support in the coming days. He wants kids to succeed.
Break the silence.
Who makes a positive impact in your life? Take some time to let them know.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.