Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Great Educators Provide a Transformational Experience

I'm a huge fan of the show Extreme Weight Loss and Chris and Heidi Powell, the trainers on the show. The show allows us, the viewers, to follow the weight-loss journey that happens over a one-year span of time.  There's a word that Chris always uses when he talks to the clients that he trains: TRANSFORMATION.

I love the show and record each episode on my DVR, and I've been thinking about the parallels that there are between what Chris does and what great educators do. 

I wonder if Chris Powell read Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess! At the beginning of every show, we see Chris surprise his new client in fun and creative ways. He then tells them, "I choose you."

Great teachers do this, too. They find creative and engaging ways to "hook" kids. They make a connection with their students. And everything in their spoken and unspoken language says "I choose you" to each and every student.

The clients that work with Chris are only selected from a group who have asked Chris to take them on as clients. The student is ready and the master appears. Interesting thing happens to some along the way. It gets hard. They want to quit. They have fear. They want to quit. But Chris doesn't quit on them. They have one of the hardest years of their lives ahead of them, and he stays with them. He never gives up. Even when they cheat on their diets, or skip workouts, or don't believe in themselves. 

Great educators know that children are going to make mistakes. They get it when a student mumbles under his breath when he gets in trouble for coming to class late. Great teachers forgive a student when she copies someone else's homework or doesn't do it at all. Great teachers don't give up on students.

When Chris takes his clients through their first workoust, it's what Chris calls the "fight or flight" workout. He does this with all of his clients to see understand their initial limits. It also serves as a foundation of strength for the year. I've never seen a client give up at their first workout!

Great educators get to know their students and build relationships quickly. They find out the strengths of their students and build on them. They push their students, even when the student doesn't know that he or she is capable of more. Great educators believe that all of their students will grow under their care.

Throughout the seasons, I have watched Chris Powell provide some amazing experiences for his clients. They have visited other countries, had their homes remodeled, received personal make-overs, trained with professional and athletes, and the list goes on. Chris doesn't just train them in a gym and teach them nutrition in a vacuum. He also doesn't just tell them that losing weight will be good for them and leave it at that. He finds ways to motivate his clients to WANT TO lose the weight. 

What if educators did all that they could to find ways to motivate students to WANT TO learn the information for their classes?

At the end of each episode, we get to see the results of the year. 

In most every episode, the person who is overweight is dealing with an emotional struggle. An emotional loss, a shameful event, or even grief has caused the visible symptom of obesity. At school, we have students in our classroom who didn't eat dinner the night before, whose parents have lost their job, who struggle with reading, who don't "fit in," or other "emotional baggage" that they bring with them to school. The symptoms may not be obesity, but it may be acting out, talking back, arriving late to class, and more.

Even though we don't always get to see the transformation, great educators know that they make a difference in a child's life. For some children, an educator will be the one who transforms them. An educator may even save a child's life! Even when they don't see a transformation, great educators plant the seeds for future transformations, and have faith that the seeds will one day grow and bloom.




  1. Thank you for providing consistent inspiration to your educational colleagues. I'm grateful for the teachers I had who never gave up on me. I'm also grateful for colleagues who set the same tone for their students. I'm blessed to have you aas a friend and colleague.

    1. I agree with you, Greg. I appreciate the teachers and coaches who didn't give up on me when I wanted to give up on myself. I'm inspired each day by the teachers who persevere and are champions for students, especially the students who are just "throw away kids" for many. Thank you for your comments!

  2. I think it's important to also know that for many students a complete transformation doesn't happen in just one year but is often a handful of years put together. So, we must not lose heart when we see small changes and growth - it's just part of their bigger transformation. What we can do, though, is to be there for them and let them know we're going to do everything we can to help them learn.

  3. Thanks for the motivation. As teachers we change the trajectory of each student's life. Not only those in our class but the ones in our school that we may just have one chat with. We have been blessed with an amazing job. Thanks for reminding us of the transformation that occur when we love them, help them learn and encourage them to believe in their future.

  4. "Great educators believe that all of their students will grow under their care." Love this quote and the connection you made between a popular TV show and educating students. You always do a nice job showcasing a passion for our craft of educating children and professional growth. Thank you!

  5. I loved the blog! It is so important for students to know that we "see" them, and that we believe in them!