Supporting the Future Hopes and Aspirations of Those You Serve – George Couros

This is a question I have been asking educators to consider for a long time about students in our schools:

 


 

Do kids create “because of” or “in spite of” school?

 


 

In “Because of A Teacher,” 15 other educators and I discuss the educators that inspired us in school and have led to success in adulthood. I love that book because it reminds us that a great teacher can have an impact on a student that impacts not only that student but all those that they interact with.

A quick story…My Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Stock (I can’t bring myself to refer to her by her first name 42 years later!), taught me how to tie my shoes in bunny ears in my first year of school. She taught the “advanced” method the next day, but when I wanted to stay with “bunny ears” (BE4L!), she never made me feel bad about it. I still tie my shoes that way to this day.

Do you know who else ties their shoes in bunny ears? My daughter, Kallea.  

An impact that goes beyond that day, week, year, and even individual in the classroom that has that interaction. The impact of a teacher can truly be generational.

 

But I have been thinking a lot about a variance of that same question (because or in spite of) in the context of the adults.

 


 

Do the people in our organizations feel encouraged to grow because of leadership or in spite of it?

 


 

Two things intersected in one day to make me think about this.

As I sat and watched a Superintendent address the staff he served, he not only acknowledged the fantastic work of the staff in the room but, in one of the most personal exchanges I have ever witnessed from a leader of an organization of that size, he also acknowledged and celebrated people that went onto other opportunities outside of the district as well, knowing that the community played in part in the success of those individuals.

Not only did he share that publicly, I heard staff CHEER for those people, even though they weren’t there because they knew that they would impact people outside the organization, whether it be students, staff, or both. 

At this moment, I was getting a message from a friend of mine, sharing her frustration that she was not “allowed” to do certain things because the administration was concerned that the skills she developed while working for that organization, would be utilized elsewhere.

I am going to write that again.

The concern by the administration was that the skills she developed while working for that organization would be utilized elsewhere!!!

What?!?!

So in one case, we have a community celebrating the success of those still within the organization and those who have moved on to other opportunities. In contrast, a different organization wants to ensure they do everything to stop any growth that may lead to outside opportunities.

Consider each scenario and ask yourself, who would you prefer to work for? In which organization would you give your best effort?

Right before I wrote this, I was mindlessly scrolling through TikTok and saw someone discuss the term “Quiet Quitting.” They discussed the term and how many were staying in their job but doing the bare minimum because they did not feel valued for many reasons. Why go above and beyond for an employer that seems to do the bare minimum for you?

We always talk about helping kids find their dreams in education, but does that also extend to adults?

I remember asking my staff the question at the end of each year, “If you could have your dream job, what would that be?” There were two people I remember that answered in different ways that still resonate over a decade later.

One said, “I would like to eventually have the opportunity to lead my own school and become an administrator.”

The other said, “I have my dream job right now, and I would like to continue doing EXACTLY what I am doing.”

The first person has become an incredible administrator, and we did all we could to support that process. 

The other teacher retired doing the same job she loved, and I don’t think I ever saw her have an unhappy day. There is no better job than one where you feel you have found your purpose.

Do you know what was important in both interactions? We ASKED and then did our best to support both staff members so they would feel appreciated and valued but not only for what they were currently doing but valuing their hopes and dreams in the process.

Dreams for the adults can be internal and external opportunities within your school or district. If organizations support both of these pursuits, you will NEVER lack talent. People will WANT to work for leaders and organizations they know will support their dreams and goals, even as those goals evolve. 

But only caring about people’s aspirations as long as they don’t leave might get them to eventually stay in a place they don’t want to be. 

When that happens, you aren’t just affecting the adults but the students they serve. 

George

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