“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali
“Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” – Jim Henson
I recently participated in a Twitter chat led by Shelley Burgess about her upcoming book, P is for PIRATE, in collaboration with her husband, Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a PIRATE. It was an entertaining chat that centered on the ABCs of teaching, where we were encouraged to post inspiring words about education beginning with each letter of the alphabet. It was during this chat that I posted the following, “A is for audacity. Have the audacity to be the best. Be your students’ favorite teacher; favorite principal. Make them remember you!” It really got me thinking about what we do as educators and why we do it. Because that is truly my goal, to be the type of principal that my students will always remember. It may seem a little lofty or even arrogant to some, but I have no interest in doing what I do if I can’t see myself striving to be the best in the world.
It was recently reading Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, that made me think about the concept about being the best in the world. The main focus of Godin’s book is about knowing when to quit. He tells us that the most successful people in any endeavor quit and quit often. The “Dip” is a temporary setback that you can overcome if you keep pushing (if you feel that this is the right path for you). Godin speaks about hanging tough if you have found a “dip” that is worth your time and effort. I highly recommend this book and any others written by Godin. He really expands my thinking.
However, this post isn’t about quitting as an action plan. I latched on to something else that Godin writes about in The Dip, which is the concept of wanting to be the best in the world in whatever you do. Godin’s perspective comes from the business end of the world and his belief is that being the best in the world is vital because consumers don’t have time to discern which business, practitioner, or product could be the right one for them. They just want “the best in the world” so they go straight to the top (word of mouth and advertising really help). But we can easily apply this to education. Something that I have said for years is that I want all of my students to experience an education like the students in my best teachers’ classrooms get to experience. And why shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t all of our students get the best teacher? Doesn’t every parent want their child to have the best teacher at their child’s school? Shouldn’t all of our children go to schools run by the best principals?
So if you are an educator, I ask you this – Are you the best teacher at your school? Are you the principal that your students will remember forever? Will your students seek you out when they are older? Are you the educator who gets “the letter”, you know the one that students send when they are older and successful, thanking their teacher for guiding them and making a difference in their life? Do you care so much about your students that you can’t sleep at night when something isn’t working for them? Do your students love coming to school because of you?
If you are not the best teacher, why not? What qualities do the best teachers at your school possess? How do they connect with their students on a deeper level and make relationship building seem so easy? Is there a way that you can become one of the best?
Because, I will be honest with you, if you aren’t interested in being the best teacher in your school, then teaching is probably not for you. I am now at my fourth school as an administrator and I have seen a lot of great teaching. I mean seriously awesome things that teachers are doing with students. I also have been in classrooms where I ask myself why is this person teaching? Where is the passion? Where is the connection with students? The only way that we are going to transform education into the respected profession that it should be is to weed out those teachers who have no aspiration to be the best in the world, to be their students’ favorite teacher.
The end of another calendar year is the perfect time to reflect on our passion toward education. Do you see yourself as the best in the world or working toward being the best? Educators have the most amazing opportunity to transform lives and change the world. All of our students deserve educators who believe that they are the best in the world. A lot of education centers on building relationships and making connections with our students. Sometimes the mandates and forces outside of our classrooms/schools can be overwhelming and make us forget the true purpose of teaching – instilling a love of learning in our students. Many educators will complain about all of the obstacles and let it affect their connection to their students. I ask you to rise above that which would bring you down. I included Muhammad Ali’s quote at the beginning of this post because I want you to believe that you are the greatest. The reward for being the best in the field of education is a legacy of learning and love. Be the best in the world!