The Greatness Gap

This week I experienced a highlight of my educational career. It was witnessing my students take the stage at a State Level Career and Technical Conference for a Student Panel Workshop. Seeing these four young people in such a different capacity, was so exciting. They fielded grueling questions concerning their Animal Foster program and Student-ran Dog Grooming business. They shared their failures, what they have learned, and offered advice on how other schools could do the same!

In the second half of the workshop I shared thoughts on how we as schools desperately needed our students, through service learning opportunities, to become positive change agents in our communities. It was during this last half of the workshop I received a question that stopped me.

“How would you suggest for someone to fight back the notion from a principal and counselor that our CTE classrooms shouldn’t be dumping grounds?”

These questions are always so hard for me, because I’ve never seen my program as a dumping ground…maybe a proving ground? I said, “I apologize in advance because I am going to share a thought that may offend some and I do not mean it rudely, it’s just a passion point for me.” My students in the front row had wide grins, they were familiar with this preface/warning it usually followed with me sharing a thought that needed to be said not necessarily was wanting to be heard.

I dove in, “It starts with our view that our programs are dumping grounds. If you believe that is what your program has become that is how your program will remain. If we do not have the capacity to see the potential for Greatness in each child who enters our programs, then we need to do a serious heart-check about why we are in education. Our programs can be a sowing ground for the future, if we approach with that attitude those perceptions take care of themselves.”

As I’ve continued to reflect on both the question and my response, I keep being drawn back to what I shared with an aspiring educator the weekend before. He was doubting a potential decision to enter education. Knowing this young man, I shared that he had a quality that has become increasingly rare in our field of education and honestly as a whole society. The gift and ability to see the capacity for Greatness in everyone he meets. I don’t know if that is something which can be developed, maybe it is possible, all I know is it starts with a belief in others.

Four years ago at this exact conference, I presented a workshop where I was confronted with a similar view point, back then four years ago I didn’t have the confidence to speak my mind…over time this has changed as I’ve began to see the urgency with which this perspective needs to be percolated through the walls of our educational institutions. Here is a link from that early post: (one of the first blogs I actually wrote!)

Here is a quote from that previous post that encapsulates my sentiment still:

The students who walk through that door are in the process of becoming masterpieces for a work we truly have no conception of…so how dare us assume we know (oh how stained is my guilt of this!!).

Our students arrive in this world as blocks of the finest marble and we are entrusted as Michelangelo, but fleetingly in their life. Let the mark we leave be a chip towards helping them realize their masterpiece, not a brazen whack that splits the whole.

How will you inspire others to see their own potential for Greatness today?

Thanks for reading and enjoy the recent beautiful weather…very lucky for February!

Take care my friends and thank you for reading and sharing!!

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