Realizing there is no way out, I pull myself up and head to the shower. I rub Zest soap under my nose and let it sit there. Now, I am not sure if that is healthy or not, but it sure wakes me up. I drive to work and walk into the school building, willing myself to make each step. And as I walk into the building, something always hits me. It's the feeling that keeps me going and that pushes me daily, and I think I want to be part of something special!
Still, Mr. Clark's energy is high and infectious when students are in the room. He encourages the teachers at his school to dream and to run. In Move Your Bus, Clark describes a little bit of the devotion that his teachers have to their students. I have used the term, Get serious about having fun, with my classes in the past, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that's exactly what they do at the Ron Clark Academy.
So Andy stepped up his game. He had many wild ideas about how to better engage his customers and improve the product they received, and he experimented with implementing even the most farfetched of them. Although his methods were unorthodox, he started to see results. Andy didn't know it at the time, but he was dabbling with a process that the business world today calls disruptive innovation.
I really like the term disruptive innovation. We really get a good picture of the type of thinking Mr. Clark encourages among his staff. I buy into this, too. I enjoy innovating lessons, manipulating the pieces, and going at things from a different direction. At the same time, the challenge is to do things right, with the right focus and motives in mind. I must strive to maintain a purpose for my class.
It's interesting that Clark addresses his infectious spirit, later in the introduction to the text, though that may not be his exact intention with these words:
My key message is to have high expectations of people - because when you do, the people around you will meet those expectations...I believe that all truly inspiring leaders...know that, in addition to having high expectations of others, they must hold themselves accountable for equipping people to meet those expectations...
I needed to return to expecting success from all students. I needed to understand that I could lead like a shepherd. I needed to know that I didn't have to sacrifice some students for the sake of others, but that I could help them all. I also needed to understand this:
...Now the thing is, you can't just set your expectations high and tell people to get there any way they can. If you do that, you guarantee that they will struggle to deliver. Instead, you have to communicate the expectation very specifically and then find ways to uplift people and let them shine.
...So I slowed it down, and I broke it down, and I taught them about manners one simple rule at a time. I literally showed them what I expected. I demonstrated how to give a firm handshake and look people in the eye while speaking to them, how to respond if you accidentally bump into someone and how to eat with proper etiquette, for example, and then we practiced these new manners in the classroom...
Those details are constantly on display now. I, too, will explicitly teach skills that I never thought needed to be taught. How hard is a handshake after all? It turns out to be much more involved than we thought.