Passion, Deviance, and Long Marches – Part 2

Stratagem #2 – Have a mission consistent attitude in all circumstances!

Quote #2 – “Excellence is a form of deviance, doing things that are not normal.”  Robert Quinn

Question #2 – Do faculty and staff work diligently to make the student’s experience one of excellence?

  • After a while, it is human nature to go through the motions, cut corners, especially when doing the same thing year after year.  It is imperative that teachers have deviant behavior, that they have expectations of excellence for themselves and their students.  Every teacher must have his or her niche, a classroom tradition, something the students talk about every year.  I knew a wonderful math teacher who was known for saying that math talks to him, and then he set out to show the students how this is so.  Or a third grade teacher who introduced a new gerbil to the class every year.  The study of and care for the gerbil was woven into all lessons, from grammar and vocabulary to mathematics. 
  • The either/or war between the basics (rote) and critical thinking (creativity) reminds me of the phonetics versus whole language war of the 1970’s.  It is not about one or the other, it is about a judicious blend of both.  First you teach the basics and yes, drill them, from grammar and phonics, to multiplication tables.  Then you ask the students to apply what they have learned to unfamiliar situations, critical thinking.  One cannot communicate, in written form or orally, with a rich vocabulary and expression without having a commanding knowledge of grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, etc.
  • It is one thing to pursue excellence in all things in your school, and quite another to let the world at large know about your success.  To not consider demonstrating the students’ mastery to this constituency is to “keep your light under a basket.”  Our society is ratings and number crazy.  Objectives need to be quantifiable with an amount.  So it is with our schools.  A teacher/school need to find avenues by which their students can demonstrate excellence.  For high schools this would be PSAT/SAT scores, NMSQT semi-finalists and finalists, college acceptance lists, GPA’s, etc.  For terminal eighth grade schools, it is a bit more difficult to brag.  So these schools must enter local, regional, and national contests such as Latin Forums, MathCounts contests, National Mythology Exams, and WordMaster Challenge.  Based on your students’ outcome, results should be sent to the local newspapers as PSA’s, posted on Facebook and your school website, and listed in the school newsletter.  You want to build a school aura of a superior educational experience for students, one that makes your present parents proud, and attracts new families to your school. 

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