Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Great Aptitude Doesn't Make You a Great Educator

I was fortunate to get to hear Siran Stacy this week as he gave a keynote address at the fall conference for the Alabama Association of Secondary School Leaders. His story is powerful, and the message he gave was inspiring and encouraging.  

One of my favorite quotes from Siran was when he said, "A great aptitude doesn't make you a great leader." He says that it's ATTITUDE, not aptitude, that makes leaders great. I strongly believe in controlling the things we can control and choosing a positive attitude. 

"A great aptitude doesn't make you a great leader." -Siran Stacy  <---Click to Tweet

I also would like to change his quote to read, "A great aptitude doesn't make you a great educator."

When we choose to have a positive attitude, it turns negative moments into opportunities for growth. When we choose to be positive, we lift up those around us. 

In our roles as educators, it is important to have buildings full of positive adults to define the culture and model this for young people. 

When I'm advising people on choosing education as a career, my answers have to do with attitude and mindset. I don't talk about "having summers off" or "working hours that match with kids' school hours" or "having holidays off." 

Our job is too important to advise just anyone to go into the education field... we need to be encouraging those with positive attitudes and growth mindsets. 

Below is an example of how I responded to a recent email about a friend's granddaughter. (Her granddaughter is a college athlete and is considering education as her profession.) 

Here's what she wrote to me in the email: 

"She has chosen to take elementary education, but is second guessing her decision. Her observations to me include: 'I will work all day and then there's so much MORE to do than just teach. There's so much paper work - IEPs and everything, etc.'

What advice would you give her?"

Here's what I wrote in return:

"Yes. There is a lot of work that goes into teaching. It is a complicated process to motivate, understand, listen, nurture, teach, communicate, push, pull, and care for kids. It is a service profession, so the students' needs always come first, sometimes at the sacrifice of our own. However, it is one of the THE most important roles, and one of the most rewarding. 

Here's what I would suggest she ask herself:
  • Do I love helping others?
  • Do I enjoy seeing others succeed because of me?
  • Am I willing to do whatever it takes to help kids be successful?
  • Can I give to someone without expecting anything in return?
  • Do I believe in my ability to help someone else be successful?

If she's a softball player, she has been through tougher situations. She knows what it means to sacrifice her wants/needs for the greater good. She knows what consistency means, and how to fight for something
she believes in. She also is a learner, because you never 'arrive' in athletics, no matter what accolades he/she receives... there is always a lesson to be learned, either more about the sport, about yourself, about others."

Do you think we should ask veteran educators these questions? Do you think these questions should be asked in interviews? How would you answer?

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  2. Jennifer,
    LOVE the questions you posed. Yes, every teacher (new and veteran) should be asked those questions! It really puts the focus on what education should be. Thanks for sharing:)

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