Monday, December 30, 2019

Relentless About the Right Things



I love the energy and intention of the word relentless. There is power in that word. It indicates persistence, perseverance, commitment, and fortitude. The word is strong and mighty.

When we talk about educators being relentless, that's often a great compliment. What parent wouldn't want a teacher or principal for his or her own child who is relentless, who exhibits the qualities of being determined, dedicated, and diligent? 

But, one word of caution. Relentless about what?

When I was in college I had a professor who I would definitely say was relentless, in a way. He had an incredibly detailed syllabus, over 25 pages long. He had clearly invested much time and energy in preparing for the course. He seemed very relentless in his attention to every fine point.

No doubt his knowledge of his subject matter was off the charts. He spoke with tremendous authority on his topic. You could easily tell he had an impressive depth of understanding. I'm guessing he studied his subject matter relentlessly.

His tests were notorious for their complexity, rigor, and depth. Students lived in fear of his tests. And upon returning the graded exams, he would include meticulous written feedback regarding each incorrect answer. Much of the feedback went right over my head. We were asked to do nothing with the feedback, but he was relentless in giving it nonetheless.

I learned next to nothing in this course. I simply survived. And from my discussions with other students and his overall reputation around campus, that seemed to be the general consensus.

Getting through his class felt like it was more about gaming his system, and his 25-page syllabus, than it was about actual learning. I surprisingly got a decent grade, but it didn't reflect much of anything about the quality of my learning.

There was little interaction between the professor and the students. There was no connection. There was no attempt to meet the learners at their current level of understanding. He simply taught right over everyone's heads.

So what are you relentless about in your classroom or school?

Are you relentless about the rules or about the relationships?
Are you relentless about the grades or the learning?
Are you relentless about the curriculum or the progress of the learners?
Are you relentless about marching through the standards or inspiring a love of learning in your students?

Let's reflect on what's most important and make sure we're applying our energy to those things.

Let's be relentless about what adds the most value to our learners and their futures.

Let's be relentless about bringing joy and enthusiasm for learning.
Let's be relentless in knowing our students.
Let's be relentless in believing in our students.
Let's be relentless in listening to our students.
Let's be relentless in understanding our students' perspectives.

Let's seek to be relentless as educators. But let's also reflect to make sure we're relentless about the right things.

What are you relentless about as an educator? What do you value most and does that also add the most value to your students? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

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