Growing up I remember being told that I needed to focus on the basics, the Three Rs of education, to get anywhere in life. I never got that, I constantly misspelled Writing and Arithmetic for the remainder of my childhood. Today I was reminded that not everything you need to know comes from a textbook. As I was leaving the gym I overheard two guys discussing how they were doing with their personal goals. One of them talked about how he had fallen behind with one and was trying to play catch up. He continued to talk and it was hard for me not to listen. I could hear the reflective thought process occurring while he engaged in conversation. I was impressed that he had taken the time to see what caused him to get side tracked and I thought to myself, wow what a great lesson for the day! You see, I firmly believe that life is full of teachable moments. We just get too busy and bogged down to stop and listen. The young gentleman discussed that he had written down some ideas on how to improve. He came up with the following three words to guide him for the rest of the year: Refresh....Refine....Retool.
Immediately I thought how these three simple words could have an impact on the classroom or even our personal lives. What if we as teachers, students, and individuals practiced this at least once or even daily? These became my Three R’s for the remainder of the year.
Refresh- Just like in video games....we all need a refresh (restart) button. Sometimes you need to start over because things have gotten a little messy since you began. Take a break...take a deep breath...find a new perspective. Whatever you do don't give up on the idea... unless it is useless (think 80/20 rule: focus 80% of your time on the top 20% of things that bring you the most reward)... If not, then drop it. As teachers should we allow students a chance to refresh? I say yes! Teach them to reflect and start over. Make them do it again to show they can do better and be more creative.
Refine- I think that we all need to work within our passion and purpose. Life however, has a way of derailing us if we let it. We pick up extra work, allow things to steal our time, we don't act when needed--out of fear, or we simply have developed a bad habit. According to Webster the word refine means "to free from impurities or unwanted material." A diamond is worthless unless it goes through a refinement process. Only then does it gain it's true value. Take the time to look at what you are doing. Is it with purpose? Are you passionate about it? If not, then why are you doing it? Find ways to refine your life and pursue your passion with intentional purpose. Polish yourself up and get after it!
Retool- What can you do today to better yourself? What new tool can you learn about that will have an immediate impact on how you do your day to day? I could insert a long list of what I use, but what I use may not work for you. As an educator I am constantly looking into new technology and the way it could impact my students. Personally I look for books that challenge me to think differently and build my leadership style. It's best to go discover it yourself. Find something new that adds to who you are and truly allows you to grow. Even if it's uncomfortable. According to Brian Tracy you must “move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
The point behind all this is personal growth. As Will Rogers stated, “even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” Equip yourself for the future you. Be your own competition down the road and see how far you can go.