How Do You Define It? How Bad Do You Want it?

TerryFoxToronto19800712This year my colleague and teaching partner Gallit Zvi and I showed an inspirational video “How Bad Do  You Want it?” just before our school’s annual Terry Fox Run.  We wanted to engage students in a discussion about success.  Students equated the steps to success in this video to steps to being a good person, friend, spouse, parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, student, and learner.  They also connected it to Terry, who wanted his “it” so badly that he was willing to run a marathon a day on one leg across Canada.  He didn’t want it for himself.  He wanted  it for the generations of Canadians who would suffer from Cancer if nothing was done to help fund research to find a cure.  He gave people reasons to hope.

I’ve watched this video a few times previous to showing it to our classes.  Each time reminding myself of the importance of setting goals for myself, never giving up on myself no matter how difficult things get, and adjusting my goals as my circumstances change.  The feeling of success with something I’ve worked hard on to build or achieve is an amazing feeling unlike almost anything I’ve ever felt before.

Many of the greatest feelings I’ve experienced were not motivated by how much I was going to be paid, but by how much of difference I can make.  I learned this from my Dad.

“No matter how much you make financially your legacy will always be cemented by how you made people feel.”

Relationships matter and supporting my students and those people closest to me matter the most.  They are my greatest successes and will ultimately tell my story.

How do we as educators guide and inspire students in our classrooms to focus on what is important in life as part of being successful?  Too often we gauge success for students in schools as letter grades, top achievers, top athletes, etc.. instead of celebrating and honouring the many different success stories of all students.

Thank you to my friend Chris Wejr for helping me see the light on this.  I use to be excited for this day and now that I am responsible for helping pick the winners I cringe each time I do it.  Chris has written extensively on why celebrating success through awards ceremonies do more harm than good to students.  Please take a moment to read what he has to say.  Awards ceremonies don’t inspire the stories of the many who are sitting in the audience not being recognized.  They only honour a select few and honour them often for reasons that don’t connect to real life.  How does an Awards Ceremonies culture inspire the masses to be agents of hope and feel the true mean behind life successes?  The answer… it doesn’t.  Individual schools need to engage their communities in discussions around alternatives to shift the culture from honouring the few to honouring all.

We want to students to see connect themselves as learners, creators, and agents of hope with an ability to make a positive change in their school, community, and world they live in.  Too often the many stakeholders in education focus on the mindset of yes but… instead of yes and what is our next step.  If it is an excellent idea it is an excellent idea.  Shifting all our mindsets from the former to the later is in process and something that needs to continue to happen if we want inspired citizens to follow passions and be successful people.

How bad do we want this success for our students?  For me Genius Hour is a great step to make this possible for students.

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5 Responses to How Do You Define It? How Bad Do You Want it?

  1. T. Henriksen says:

    Love this post, Hugh.

    Chris has also had a huge impact on me with regards to awards and the purpose and results of these awards. It is a difficult one though because so many people in school, just don’t “get” it yet. So, even though we are preaching to the choir here, it can be tough work in our buildings.

    Again, the same thing goes with things you do in the classroom. Genius Hour is huge to give kids ownership; to give them control over their own learning, and to give them the ability to understand and develop their own passions. What a concept!

    You make wonderful connections with your students (and colleagues), Hugh. They are fortunate to have you!

    Nice to see you blogging,
    Tia
    😉

  2. Reblogged this on Road to Genius and commented:
    An inspiring blog entry about how we as educators inspire and motivate our students. What equals success to you? How do you encourage students to succeed?

  3. Pingback: How Do You Define It? How Bad Do You Want it? |...

  4. I really like the point you make about doing things not for rewards or remuneration but for the value if the goal itself. In talking with kids about Terry Fox I also mention Steve Fonyo to demonstrate the flip side of having a goal not for a higher purpose. If we can help kids understand the value of doing good for the sake of good, we will have done some important work.

  5. Thanks for sharing Hugh,
    I have previously written about priorities and that things we value he most we need to consciously make time for. Sometimes instead of saying “I don’t have time for that” we should be saying “I would rather do something else”. Spending time with your young family is the best priority because this time slips away quick enough, you should not beat yourself up about that.
    I have never seen that video before and it’s easy to forget how hard people work every minute to achieve their dreams. Whilst our dreams may not be athletic, your dream to make a difference in the lives of young people can be acted on every minute of your day to. You are absolutely correct when you say the stories will tell your success. It is also in the smiles of the people around you each day. Thanks again for you honest and thoughtful writing.

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