Monday, January 26, 2015

Your Next First Step

I was fortunate to spend time with two schools this past week and have enjoyed an ongoing connection with them for almost three years. Over that time we’ve looked at curriculum design, assessment practice, school culture, leadership, and response to instruction as the schools continue to drive toward the goal of all students achieving better outcomes. Anyone who knows me and has worked with me will also know that all of the work has been built on a strong foundation of relationships.

As I was flying home and reflecting on the week that was with the two schools (and doing my customary making notes of the things I learned from brilliant colleagues), I came across this quote from Rory Vaden: "Success isn't owned — it's leased. And rent is due every day". It shifted my thinking from what was to what can be. It also resonated with me as I reflected on one of the challenges we face as educators – our work is not complete until EVERY student makes a successful transition; grade by grade and then to the next phase of their lives. Our success as educators isn’t based on what we did to get to our current levels of student outcomes; it’s based on what we’ll do to get those currently not there to a place where they can take on the next challenge in their lives. It’s not about arriving as an educator; it’s about striving to be THAT educator – the one who accepts no excuses but only results.

One of the things the two schools were focused on (despite their improving levels of student success) was their next first step. It’s that step that will move us beyond the current comfort – no matter how well deserved – to that next challenge, and more significantly, the next breakthrough. Our students are worth that effort.

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