“The Edge-Where The Average STOP and ELITE The START” -Tim Kight
Yesterday, I was given a poster with the above quote on it and I just can’t stop thinking about it. As I’ve played the quote over and over in my head during the past 24 hours I can’t help but think of a huge list of examples of times when the amazing teachers I work with have pushed themselves to the EDGE.
At my school we have been challenging ourselves to make the choice to be ELITE. And, it’s hard. As we get all wrapped up in the demands of the school year, it’s easy to switch to auto pilot; resort to blaming, complaining and defending; and do anything we can to make a problem become “not our problem”. But, time and time again I see my staff choosing just the opposite. They are choosing to be ELITE and it comes through each and every day.
Here are three of the important choices that separate the average from the ELITE:
1. Ask the right questions, even when they make you feel uncomfortable-On Tuesday a few teachers stopped in my office to share some data with me. They noticed that their students dropped several reading levels from the end of last year to this year. What was awesome about the conversation was that there was no blaming, instead they asked questions:
We think we should talk to the team of teachers who had these kids last year and find out what the biggest struggles were for the students.
We also want to know what strategies worked for them.
We want to compare their work from last year to a work sample from this year to see where the gaps are.
See! NO COMPLAINING just a group of teachers asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS!
2. Have tough conversations even when you don’t want to.-On Wednesday one of my kindergarten teachers, my speech therapist and I met with a parent. The parent’s little boy was struggling in kindergarten and we had to let her know that very little academics were occurring for her child. We were still working on having him keep his hands to himself, walking in the line and following one step directions. Throughout the meeting the teacher shared multiple interventions that we would be using to help her son. Near the end of the meeting the parent began to cry and what my teacher said to her put everything in to perspective. She said, “I would rather have a child with a good heart than one who knows all of his letters on the first day of school. You’re doing a great job.” She continued by saying, “the academics will come, we are going to meet him where he is.”
3. Choose to tell yourself the positive story-You’ve heard the saying “perception is reality”. When we choose to be ELITE we make the decision to tell ourselves the positive story. It doesn’t mean that we look at the world through rose-colored glasses but it does mean that we take a step back when we’re presented with situations and remember that we’re here to do what’s best for kids. We remember that it’s not always about us. I see teachers at my school telling the positive story every day as they jump in and cover duties for each other, help one another with behavior plans and stay after school late into the evenings to meet with parents after they finish work.
Each day my teachers help me as I continue to push myself to start at the EDGE. I am not going to settle for average and neither are they. Our students deserve more.
Do you stop or start at the EDGE?
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.