“How May I Serve You?”
We love those 5 simple words when we order at a restaurant or check into a hotel. Our brains and emotions get excited knowing we are about to enjoy an experience that brings us comfort, after all we are paying for it! Culturally we are surrounded by everything designed to make our lives easier, more comfortable, just plan convenient. We are catered to by businesses promising to make everything more comfortable from the pillows we sleep on, to the noise canceling headphones providing just the optimal experience to our ears. I will be the first to admit I have spent good money on experiences and products, all in the name of making my life easier. However, as I reflect on my life as an educator, having traveled from the classroom to the role of administrator I am struck by a few observations concerning convenience and today’s educational landscape.
A different Vantage Point
In our quest to make our lives easier what if it is actually hurting us? What if comfortable is actually toxic to our drive to ensure that we don’t just do “ok”? What if convenience kills our spirit to work harder?
I have sat through many interviews. You want to know who stand out to me, the candidate who has a history of going above and beyond, where they share they have/will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of students. You bet I am looking for the person who gets “it.” Those kind of teachers you don’t have to train them in it, that is how they are hardwired. Don’t get me wrong, teaching is not your life, it is a part of life. Many of us have families, passions, and interests outside of education, as we should. BUT…
When we step across the threshold of the school building door each day we need to remember, “it’s not about us anymore.” We are 100% here for kids.
It’s not about you or me, but “us” doing what it takes, rolling up our sleeves, to ensure that every student gets what they need. Maybe we have tried 17 different strategies to help a student be successful, it’s time to try #18. We won’t quit until we get it right. It is the teacher who realizes that this a calling, a profession built on making sure others get better, not just being ok with ok.
I am proud to be apart of a school that does not thrive or promote a “blame culture.” The type of culture that consistently complains about why kids are not succeeding. Let’s be clear… Bad parents have always existed, there has always been economic disparity, and kids have always been irresponsible. We might feel the reality of those factors more today than ever but we must offer real solutions.
The solution = You!
I know, crazy right! The teacher is still the best promise for student success today. Even more powerful are teachers who band together to form an interdependent team, believing that all of us together are better than any single one of us. Teachers are the ones who have the opportunity speak truth, hope, and light into students. What if we truly embraced that customer service perspective, “how may I serve you?” The “you” being all our stakeholders from students to parents to our community. There are so many wonderfully hard working teachers who are doing this already but what if as a profession we were honest that we could go even further to ensuring all kids grow and succeed at their own level.
It will take a lot of hard work but I am convinced if we will walk into our schools each day saying (maybe literally outloud), “It’s not about you anymore,” that a culture of affirmation and achievement will soar!
Growing Together, Jeff
*Dedicated to the reflections that result from my strong PLN #Leadupchat and those who help to make me sharper as a learner and leader.