Sunday, November 12, 2017

What If We Aimed for Collective Greatness?

This summer I heard Ron Clark speak and tell his story of how he became one of our nation's most celebrated teachers and ultimately founded the Ron Clark Academy. It's truly an inspiring story for educators. 

He came into education almost by accident. He was only going to teach temporarily until something better came along. But then he started to love it. And the kids loved him. And he was having unbelievable success, even with the most challenging students. He was setting very high expectations, and he was creating learning experiences that were irresistible.

And then the principal of the school came to him and said, "Why are you being so showy? You're making the other teachers very uncomfortable." 

He was getting fantastic results. He was bringing passion, enthusiasm, and energy to the classroom. Kids were learning. Kids were having fun learning. Test scores were skyrocketing. You would think everyone would want to replicate what Mr. Clark was doing, right? You would think they would want to learn from him, right?


Years ago, after I had given a suggestion to a teacher about a practice another teacher was using, I was surprised by the response.

"Oh, she runs circles around all of us."

The teacher said this with a measure of envy and a touch of self-defeat. It seemed like she was saying she could never do that. I hadn't intended there to be a comparison between the two teachers. I was just sharing that so-and-so tried this one practice and it seemed to work.

Average minds want other people to have average minds too. They feel threatened by the boldness and daring of those who want to do something great. How dare you try to be great? You're making us look bad. You're making me uncomfortable.

So what kind of dreams do you have? What kind of difference are you trying to make? If you want others to be comfortable and accepting of you, maybe you should keep those hopes and dreams just a little smaller.

When you dream big and want to do more, be prepared for opposition from mediocre minds. There will always be naysayers who want to protect the status quo. They want to retreat to average and aim for nothing greater.

But you are different. You have gifts that you want to use. Everyone has gifts if they are willing to take the risk of using them. You aren't going to waste them. Don't waste your gift! 

People may not always appreciate your gift, but don't let that stop you from using it. Don't let someone else keep you from pursuing excellence.

Find those people who will allow you to change, grow, develop, expand, and be great. Better yet, find those people who will challenge you and encourage you to be great. Be around people who lift you up and want to see you dream big. 

Keep dreaming big.

If you want to be a difference maker, you have to be a risk taker. Your students will reach their potential only if you are willing to unleash your own potential. It's never a competition to be better than the teacher down the hall. Everyone has greatness in them. 

They should want to be great too! We want them to be great too!

We should all be pursuing greatness together, cheering each other on, celebrating each other's successes, and learning from one another. 

That's what we are ultimately pursuing. We want collective greatness. We want to create a school where excellence is everywhere. Not just pockets of excellence. We want a school where kids are experiencing learning that will literally change the course of their lives.

What can you do to further your dreams and help your school find collective greatness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. Be great!

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