I begin with a heavy heart, after hearing about the passing of Rita Pierson a few weeks ago. Her Ted Talk, “Everyone Deserves a Champion,” had a resounding impact on me and my philosophies. Her speech made me think of the instances where I may have been someone’s champion; and looking back, I am unsure if I fulfilled that prophecy. The day I heard her speech, I made a promise to myself and those around me: I will forever strive to be someone’s champion!
This leads me to a story from my childhood; a story that had a lasting impact on me; a story that I believe has made me a better husband, father, teacher, and leader. I would like to thank Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) and his book, “Teach Like A Pirate,” for reminding me of the “Hooking Strategy.” At this point I am sure many of you are thinking; what happened? What instance in someone’s life can have that kind of impact?
Growing up, my father and I spent a lot of time outdoors and continue to do so - we hunt, fish, garden, and explore, whatever we can do in nature we try to continue. When I was eight years old, one of my father’s friends asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him and his son the following day. My response was a resounding, “Yes!” That night was restless, as my excitement about the upcoming activities continued to grow. I was up early that morning rounding up all my fishing gear; I was ready to go before the sun even rose. I sat in the house that morning anticipating his arrival and the upcoming adventures. As the hours passed I just kept looking out the window, waiting for his car to pull in the drive-way. I remember, I kept telling myself, “It will be any time now, he just got busy.” As the sun set, I was left waiting for that car to arrive. He never came.
That day had a lasting impact on me as a child. I remember telling myself that if I ever make a statement/promise to anyone, I would do my best to always follow through and if I could not I would be sure to communicate why and reschedule to uphold my end of the bargain. I look back and I am not sure if I was ever given a reason regarding why or where this person was, and why he left a child filled with excitement, looking out the window. He could have been my champion that day. A phone call, a swing by, a note tucked in the door; anything would have eased the pain.
As I entered the teaching profession I took this experience and vowed to do my best to never leave any of my students with this feeling. As educators we often do not realize the impact we have on students and the impact of our words. If we say something to students, we have to ensure we follow through. If we say, “I will let you know later or I’ll get back to you tomorrow,” and we fail to do so, we have lost! This choice can be devastating, not only to the child but to you as an educator. I have witnessed empty promises first hand; and the impact has produced zero positives. We need to think of what we say each day and ensure we are fulfilling our promises to our students.
As I enter my first year in the administrative realm of education I pledge to my students, staff, and colleagues: I will do my best to be your champion. I will work each day to get better and I will always do what is in the best interest of you. Do not get me wrong, I know there will be mistakes along the way, but in each scenario I will use my experience to grow and improve. I encourage those reading this post to always try to do your best and never leave anyone looking out the window.