Saturday, August 13, 2016

6 Steps to Becoming an Encore Educator

Becoming an Encore Teacher.jpg

To change your outcome change your practices, not your principles. Southwest

Mark Sanborn, the author of The Fred Factor, opens up his book, The Encore Effect, with this quote discussing the positive growth of Southwest Airlines. It was one of those days this summer where I was in the car way too much and passed the time by listening to this book. While the premise for this book is directed to public speakers the correlation for teachers was easily made. I sent Mark a quick message and asked if I could write a blog using the principles he outlined in the book and adjusting them a bit for teachers starting a new year. He sadi yes and can't wait to read it. Be sure to check out his work and follow him on twitter @Mark_Sanborn.

Think about this question…..What does it take to get an encore? One of my favorite bands of all time has got to be The Dave Matthews Band. I’ve seen them numerous times and it never fails that at the end of the show they are cheered back on the stage to play one final set. To deliver their encore. The encore almost always seems to be the most memorable moment of the concert. You can’t get enough of their music and musicianship. What if you delviered this type of performance with your students? That simple thought is the basis of this blog.

Next week a new school year starts here in Central Ohio and I want to issue a challenge. That’s right I bought the challenge in early to make you think. Hopefully make you get a little #UNCOMFORTABLE! Ready? If giving the chance would your students or staff give you an encore? Would they want to return to your room or building just to give you the chance to influence them one more time? I bet you are questioning yourself right now. What I've done next is list six takeaways on how to become an Encore Educator. With each I am also giving some more challenge questions to help drive your efforts.

Becoming an Encore Educator

1. Performance Matters
Every day is a chance to make an impact. Every day is game day.You can’t waste it!
Love what you do and let that be seen by your students.All too often teachers are heard complaining in the lounge or looking forward to the weekend. If we are looking forward to getting out of the classroom then our students are too.

How do you perform every day? Every Class? Are you in the hallways giving high fives?

2. Define your Brand 

How will students define you?

That is your Brand! To build your brand you have to hone in on your craft. Sitting idle and living in a monotonous growth phase does not leave an impact. You have to dive in and take chances. Students remember GAME CHANGERS, not in the stand teachers. In Rising Strong Brene Brown uses Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena quote as a driving force for her research and I find it inspiring to make us all strive to be DARING GREATLY!


How are you being a game changer?
Have an IMPACT...BE MORE worried about your Student's education and success than they are.
Sanborn states that in the hands of a professional customers relax because they know they are in good hands.  So will students.  Giving them space, where they feel they can push themselves is vital. Our performance is more than what we know.  It's about what we do with what we know.

Use Sanborn’s PDA formula

Passion + Discipline + Action = Remarkable Performance

3. What's your record?

If you wish to be out front act as if you're behind. Back in my coaching days, I would always tell my teams we need to practice like we’re in second. Never allow your record to hold you back. At the same time, your record is an indication as to how well you are doing. I’m sure we have all seen the recent historic moments of Michael Phelps in the Summer Olympics.
The fact that Phelps let his record speak for itself and become the most decorated Olympian in all of history is simply mind blowing. We don’t teach for applause or for rewards. But being honored for what you do in the classroom should be celebrated. Students react to your recognition and gain a sense of pride for their teacher. Again, I’m not saying that winning awards like Teacher/Administrator of the Year is a bad thing because it definitely helps you stand out. What I am saying is simply focus on winning in the classroom. Winning with your students. Now, most importantly what is the record you hold with your students, parents, or peers? These are the most telling of your impact. The simple notes left after class from a student that says thank you. When your peers seek you out for advice. When parents praise you in the community and tell others to be sure their child has you in class. These are the records that mean the most and where you should place your stock in. These are the ones that indicate your are doing something right. Now ask yourself this question…..When was the last time I received this kind of recognition? If you can’t think of that answer then do some soul searching and figure out what is going on. It comes down to simply serving others. When you act out of service it never goes unnoticed. My wife shared a digital post it note with me this week and simply stated….If Service is Below You, Leadership is Beyond You.

4. What are your students doing in class?

As educators, we have to practice what we teach. Start by setting goals with your students. Yes, you should have some personal goals but setting goals with your students allows them to have ownership in your class. Ownership leads to engagement and motivation. Every day do these things:

Engage your students. Be sure to use hands-on activities and real world experiences. Engage every bit of their senses.
  • Connect with your students. Not just in class but on an emotional level. The more they know you care the more they will show they care.
  • Compete with your students.  Not just compete through play but you must compete for their attention. Students today come to class with their minds already preoccupied. The best way to gain their attention is to make sure you are giving them yours.  
  • Give your students Voice and Choice in every single aspect of their learning. This is a journey for them and you are their guide. You can’t always be leading from the front.
  • Your vibe attracts your tribe. You must have a contagious and attractive vibe if you want to receive an encore.
  • Understand that  your students have unlimited potential.  Don't stifle it.

5. Polish up

As educators we can easily find ourselves going through the motions. During the summers I often find myself looking forward to school starting because I need the routine. We have to be willing to fight mediocrity. The best way to do this is to polish up on your skills. Think of the smooth rocks along the shore of lake. They weren’t just placed there in the condition. They were constantly being shaped by the elements until all the rough edges were gone. We all have rough edges in our game. Quit teaching the same lesson year in and year out. Change up your game to enhance where you currently are. Constantly self assess what you are doing and ask for feedback from everyone in your sphere of influence.

6. Bad Days Happen

Stop comparing yourself to other teachers or other schools.  While social media can be a great tool to learn from I often find myself comparing what others have that I don’t. We like to play the comparison game and say things like….. “If only our district had the money, I could never do that in my school, I’m just not that creative, or It’s not covered on the test.” These are all self induced obstacles that we set in our minds so we don’t have to go above and beyond. When you get the chance to go above and beyond know this, bad days will happen. The new technology will crash. The wifi will go down. A student will not pay attention. These are not moments of failure.  Failure is to be embraced so that we may learn from it. Yes, you will need embrace all of failure. With that I mean the emotions that come along with it. Brene Brown likes to say that we gold plate Grit and Failure when we simply try to make it cool. The ones who truly shine admit their feelings and their faults in the midst of bad days. They learn to handle these moments like champions by wearing their hearts on theirs sleeves. Build on your strengths and help students build on theirs.

I did my best to tie in some of Sanborn’s principles and tweak them for our educational purposes. The thought of receiving a standing ovation at the end of each class would be phenomenal. Will it happen every day? Probably not. But, you only need one encounter to make an impact and leave a lasting impression. The big question is what will be your lasting impression on your students? Could you teach them to become the encore generators of the future? Would love to hear your thoughts and if you feel something needs to be added to the list.


John Riley