Friday, June 24, 2016

How Maintaining High Expectations for Everyone Creates Culture of Excellence

Do you have expectations for your students, staff, or athletes? Do you adjust the bottom line easily, or do maintain a level of excellence for everyone? As you’re probably guessing I believe in the importance of “SETTING THE BAR” high and not moving it. My favorite restaurant/eatery in the ENTIRE world is Moe’s. No matter where I go, Mobile Alabama or Orlando Florida, I know I will have an awesome experience. From the second I walk through the door and hear “Welcome to Moe’s," to the four step burrito making process, I know exactly what to expect at Moe’s. Moe’s secret… They have a level of expectations for all their employees. They do not have standards for special education, ELL, or low level learner burrito makers; no EVERY burrito is made with the same quality. Can you image only receiving 2 of the 4 steps of the burrito process and saying, “that’s okay, the ELL burrito maker made that one.” Absolutely not, that's not how the world works. No matter where you go, Moe’s delivers the same consistent product. So why does education not reflect this model? Why do we give in so fast? I believe we have to set the bar and not fluctuate. I believe that we have to relentlessly pursue EVERY student.

To further illustrate this point I want to provide you with a back story. When I became a teacher, I had no idea how difficult my first year would be. I went from being determined to drive excellence out of all students, to entering survival mode in a matter of weeks. Finally, one day my principal entered my classroom for a visit. Eighteen students were working on the worksheet, the task I assigned, and the other six were out of their seat or not on task. As for me, I was at my desk searching for the “next” worksheet to maintain my new KEEP’EM BUSY SURVIVAL MANTRA. Later that day the principal calls me in to inform me that my performance was inadequate. In return he assigns me an eight part Harry Wong video series and says write a report on each video. I was crushed. Basically all I heard in that moment was you’re the WORST teacher ever and you have failed these students. So, determine to fight for my job I wrote a 15 page paper detailing every suggesting Harry articulated. From that moment on I was determined to prove that principal wrong and be the absolute best teacher in the school. I immediately implemented all Harry’s suggestions, and 3 years later I became the district “Teacher of Year." Who do I contribute to this success? Believe it or not, that same principal that made me feel like the worst teacher in the world. That day he challenged me. And I’m convinced that without this expectations I would have remained a status quo teacher.

So, what are your expectations for your teachers, students, or whoever? Does your bar fluctuate?Or do you set a bar and expect everyone to reach it? My challenge for everyone is to have expectations for everyone and to continuously evaluate how to get them to that bar. Be a leader and don’t compromise your bar for a subgroup of students, a teacher based upon their ability or knowledge, or an athlete. Our job is to bring out the best, and I am convince that people will ALWAYS do what you expect.

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