My head is just full of stuff to write about: our travels to the World Dairy Expo, the behavior of my class, great conversation with a Twitter friend, but this seems to float to the top.
I’ve been very, VERY slowly reading the book, The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building The Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci It’s not that it’s a bad book, quite the opposite. I find it very engaging and interesting. My problem, I don’t make time to read. There’s always “something else”. I read before going to bed, but last night, my wife took the book off my chest because I’d fallen asleep reading!
Anyway, I’m about a third the way through, and one thing keeps popping up to me: character. The team general manager, Theo Epstein, the former GM for the Boston Red Sox, who managed create a winner in Boston, was hired by the Cubs to recreate that magic. In the time from when he was hired by the Red Sox to the time he was hired by the Cubs, many things had changed in baseball, so he himself had to change how he found players. But, one of the first things I’ve got highlighted in this book came from when he met with the organization before Spring Training in 2012, and said to this group:
“…he wanted players with strong character. ‘We aren’t going to compromise character for talent,’ he told them. ‘We’re the Cubs. We’re going to have both. Talent and character.’ “
He spent an entire day of that four day meeting talking about why character was so important and why they would “acquire only players with outstanding make up.”
The next chapter he talks about how Chicago, with the resources they, found something they could exploit in a time of hyper stats: people. People would be the difference in a time where everything was based around analytics.
“I feel like I’ve pushed our organization back to the human being. And thankfully so.”
Why then, in education, with the focus around data this and data that, do we not realize that the connections we make with our students will be what makes the difference IN that data? How we interact with our students, the way we treat them, the conversations we have, the jokes we make, all of it makes a difference in their attitude towards school!
I was at a training the last two days, a teacher relayed the story of how her team, a solid team, was broken up because they were seen as “too powerful”. The remainder of the conversation focused around how they were placed, where other classroom were placed, and how their grade level was now split and divided where there was once unity and strength.
I struggle with this statement. How are a group of teachers, with a passion for education, students, AND each other too powerful? Were they planning a coup? Were they seeking world domination, heck, school domination? Nope. They were just a group of teachers who’d been together a few years who’d come to the realization they worked well together, and who worked well with their students. This was another example of character, because she was very positive in the face of a terrible situation. I’m not sure I could have been that positive. Not. At. All.
We look for those examples of character in obvious place, but sometimes, we need to dig deeper. The Cubs? Heck yes! Teachers showing they will rise to the occasion? Sign me up! That idea of noticing things becomes more and more important because our students need good example to learn from. We used to point to our elected officials. No more.
It’s up to us. I’m up for that challenge!