Y is for You!
Really believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, the reason for being, is to enlarge the lives of others. Your life will be enlarged also. And all of the other things we have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves.
Pete Thigpen (Executive Reserves Consulting Firm)
You are the most important variable in determining the success of any student or any initiative: You.
You are absolutely the most important factor within our classrooms in terms of determining to what extent our students will learn, behave, and adjust socially and emotionally throughout the year. Collectively, we are the most important factor determining how well all of our students will perform during a given year. Although you are the most important variable, that does not mean other factors do not play a role. Indeed, family demographics, poverty rates, home life situations, and English language ability are but a few variables that impact a student’s and a school’s level of success. Based on all variables, we may not be able to have the highest M-Step scores of any school in the State. However, what the You variable does mean is that we have the power to take our kids from where they arrive and take them to levels of academic, social, and emotional well-being that teachers at other schools may not be able to match.
“Going the extra mile” is not merely a cliché at our school; it is the way we conduct our business on a regular basis. There are seven behaviors practiced in order to “encourage the heart.” Read through them and see if these are not the very same behaviors that edtec schools teachers engage in, which, again, makes our You variable that much more powerful than our colleagues at surrounding schools:
- Set clear standards
- Expect the best
- Pay attention
- Personalize recognition
- Tell the story
- Celebrate together
- Set the example
Hopefully, we follow these guidelines as a whole school in terms of working with each other professionally. More importantly, I know that individual teachers at our school follow these in working with their students each day. It is what sets our teachers apart and allows us to reach levels of performance that our demographics would suggest we should not be reaching.
At every school in America, there are students who sometimes misbehave. There are students who sometimes fail a test and there are students who at times will fail to complete their work. These are not really variables, then. The variable is how we respond when these student outcomes occur. At edtec schools, our You variable kicks in and we do whatever it takes to relearn the material, or improve the behavior, or afford the student a second opportunity to complete an assignment—in other words, we encourage the heart.
Demographics are very real and they do impact student and school success. In my five years at edtec , however, I have come to learn something that I hold onto as one of my most steadfast educational beliefs: Superior teaching trumps “difficult” demographics—or any other challenge we might face. The master teachers who staff our school have taught me this lesson loud and clear. You are the reason our kids succeed at school—at levels higher than they would had they attended another school with less passionate, encouraging teachers. Accepting that we stand as our students’ most important variable in terms of their school success and acting in ways which encourage the heart are examples of how we commit to Teaching with Passion at our school each day.