Sunday, 29 May 2016

TLAP Book Study: Week 5

Week 5- Pages 145-174

The Awkward Question, Where do I Start?, 
Finding A Crew

The Awkward Question

"Do you want to be safe and good or do you want to take a chance and be great?"- Jimmy Johnson

"Your greatness in the classroom doesn't negatively impact or inhibit anyone else's opportunity to be great. In fact, your greatness only enhances the opportunities and possibilities for others." (Burgess p. 145)

"By being great you are raising the bar...being your best possible self contributes to the school culture necessary to create the environment for greatness to flourish." (Burgess p.146)

"To ascend to the level of greatness, you have to be on fire with passion and enthusiasm.  Mediocrity is incapable of motivating...How could anyone be fired up about creating a lukewarm classroom environment where kids punch the clock, mostly behave and then file out the door...Teaching is a tough job filled with unbelievable hardships, hurdles and headaches.  Our profession has a notoriously high burnout rate,  Unless you find something big to care about, you won't make it...Suddenly it's easy to get out of bed in the morning because you are  motivated by a mighty purpose." (Burgess p. 147) 

"In these exciting times, we must be ready to take on the challenge of redefining greatness for a whole new generation of teachers and students." (Burgess p. 148)

In this chapter Burgess describes teaching using the analogy of the song, "Little Drummer Boy."  In the famous carol, Even though the little boy was too poor to bring a physical gift to honour baby Jesus he brought the gift of his talent.  Burgess then goes on to explain that we have to all find our personal "drum".  I have also heard this described as your "teaching superpower"...what is the personal strength you bring to the table that makes you unique?

Question #1- What is your teaching superpower?

"We have the ability to literally change the world" (Burgess p.149)

Where do I Start?

"Everyone who got to where they are had to begin where they were."- Richard Paul Evans 

In this chapter, Burgess talks about the five most common considerations that hold us back from taking our first step, which he describes as the most difficult part of the journey.  Below are these five reasons summarized with some advice from Burgess to help conquer them:

  • Fear of failure: There is no growth without failure.  In order to bring any dream to reality, you have to experience the process of failure (often repeated) and show tenacity to persevere to reach your goal. 
  • Believing you have to figure it all out before you begin: "Nobody is going to die if we experiment in the classroom and it doesn't work out...Unless you are constantly  climbing and striving to move forward, you are sliding backwards...You don't have to be able to see the top of the mountain to know that you can only get there by moving forward." (Burgess p. 158) 
  • Perfectionism: Burgess explains that perfectionism, which is an impossible goal, can paralyze us. He uses the analogy of a wedding photographer who, if they waited for the perfect shot would never take any pictures.  Instead, the photographer, takes hundreds, even thousands of pictures, and in that process, finds many great ones.  The lesson, "Create freely, liberally and in great quantities." (Burgess p. 152) 
  • Lack of Focus: Stephen Covey talks about putting the "big rocks" (priorities) in your jar of life first, then filling the remaining space in the jar with less important things.  "Realize that any time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Learn to say yes to the significant, and no to the projects and activities that diminish the time and energy you need to fulfill your major purpose." (Burgess p.160) 
  • Fear of criticism or ridicule: "You can fear it all you want...it's still coming." (Burgess p. 160) 


Question #2- Which of these is your greatest roadblock and what is one action that you will commit to in order to overcome it?

"The best way to overcome fear is to take action. The more action you take and the quicker you take it, the better." (Burgess p. 167) 

Finding A Crew

"All pirates travel with a crew; you can't sail, navigate, and fight battles all on your own. One of the most rewarding parts of teaching is the personal and professional relationships we develop on our voyage." (Burgess p. 169)

Burgess then goes on to describe the connections he has made and the learning he has experienced though attending conferences with like minded individuals as well as through social media. Over the past two years, these have also been the two most powerful collaborative experiences that have energized my own professional learning. 

"When a group of individual brains are coordinated and function in a spirit or Harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance, becomes available to every individual brain in the group." (Napoleon Hill- Think and Grow Rich)

"I believe that there is no single answer for how to fix our schools but that we should take the best ideas from everything that we can find." (Burgess p. 171)

Question #3 - How will you commit to making connections and finding or expanding your crew? 
Question #4 - How has this book made you a better teacher?
Question #5 - What is your post-TLAP next step?


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