Take a couple minutes to watch the video above. Jamarion Styles is a kid that I want on my team and you probably do to. Even though at first glance he may not appear to have it all, I think that he does. He has the right attitude, he has the right approach to life, and he has that can do attitude that will drive him to success.
Jamarion's story is way more powerful than his arms. His is a story of what all kids want. To belong; to be "normal" (whatever that means); to be a part of something bigger than himself. I see this in all of our kids and I am sure that you do to. My question for you is: Does your attitude about their situation allow them to feel as if they have a chance?
That is the key.
Here is a young man that was told to go home when he tried to play basketball like the other kids. Here is a young man that was told to go play soccer because people thought that was best for him. Here is a young man that was not given the chance he looked for... until Coach Williams said, "How can I say no to that?"
In public education we work with everyone from all walks of life. It's just what we do. There are times when a student like Jamarion comes along with an obvious obstacle to overcome. As educators we have a decision to make... are we going to decide what that student can and cannot do or are we going to say, "How can I say not to that?"
This story reminds me of one of my long time mentors, colleagues, and friend, Randy Matthews. Randy was my head athletic trainer at Angelo State University. Randy taught us that we are not the ones to determine what someone can and cannot do. We are the ones that are supposed to remove as many obstacles as possible, help them along the way, and get out of their way when they start to fly. I believe that to this day.
Yes, we may see the road ahead and it may be really rocky, but why did we become educators? Are we here to determine someone's future or to help them achieve their future? My answer is to help them achieve their future, what's yours?
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
P.S. Share this video with your students and ask them... "What's Stopping You?"
Do you remember these things? They used to be everywhere! Now, you can hardly find them. Oh how times have changed. Take a moment and watch the video below about the phone booth and pay phones.
Sadly, there are some of you reading this right now that have never made a call from a phone booth... or even a pay phone for that matter. Now, please do not think that I am wanting to see the return of phone booths and pay phones. Instead, I am taking a moment to point out how something that was once so common place for so long has slowly disappeared from the American landscape.
What does this have to do with an education related blog you ask? Everything.
Did you catch the discussion at the 3:29 mark about the cell phone stealing the thunder of the pay phone? The response was the cell phone stole the relevance of the pay phone. It was too laborious to make phone calls from a pay phone as compared to a cell phone. Think about that. You had to be able to find a phone, hope it worked, have the right amount of pocket change on hand (yes, pocket change did serve a purpose once), and then hope the person you were calling was physically there to answer their phone when you called. No wonder cell phones were invented.
The same is true for education. The way we have been "doing school" has been the same for over 100 years. Slowly, that has been changing. Instead of seeing as many lectures, desks in rows, and rote learning we are seeing things like collaborative learning activities, flexible student grouping, student collaboration, student choice in learning, and on demand learning all in the world of education. The way students and parents want school to look and feel is different than how you and I went to school.
Continue to change how the teaching and learning looks in the classroom. This does not mean that lectures and knowledge based learning does not have a place in education because it absolutely does. What this means is we cannot rely on lecture and knowledge based learning to be the ONLY WAY we expect teaching and learning to occur in our classrooms. We must take the knowledge gained and use that to fuel the more engaging and exciting approaches to learning. Students should want to come to your classroom to apply their knowledge in new and different ways, not sitting as passive "learners" just taking notes and completing worksheets.
What we cannot do is allow something else to come along and make what we do in classrooms irrelevant. Not possible you say? Ask the phone booth I say.
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
Over the last month or so I have been diving into this book as a part of my doctoral program at Texas A&M.
I encourage everyone to read this book, but especially those that are in leadership positions or aspire to be in leadership positions. Here is why. (Don’t worry, I am not going to list any spoilers here.) The world is not black and white. If this is a spoiler for you, I’m sorry. It shouldn't come as a surprise. I think if you are reading this, you already know the world is not simply black and white.
Once upon a time, I felt there was only black and white in this world. I was wrong. I was naïve in my leadership. This book does an excellent job of making you think about the struggles of being a leader and how your decisions impact others. This book is not based in education, but instead situations that all leaders face, ethical and moral dilemmas.
The struggles in the book are struggles of right vs. right decisions. How do you know what is right when both decisions feel and seem right? Do you base your decisions on your morals, your ethics, your conscious, your religion, your beliefs? Or do you put yourself in the shoes of those that are being affected by your decisions and make the decisions from their lens?
As a public-school leader, do you find that your personal views come into conflict with the ethics of fighting for and supporting all students, even when their actions go against your personal views? How do you navigate your waters as a leader? Do you consider those that you leave in the wake of your decisions?
This leadership stuff isn’t easy. It isn't for the faint of heart. Often, there are not right vs. wrong problems but right vs. right problems. What do you do when you come across these problems in leadership? When these types of problems come your way, be ready ...everyone's watching.
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
I would love to hear how you work through these issues in your work. Please feel free to share in the comments section below.
A lifelong learner that is committed to asking questions to seek greater understandings.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are
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