I’ll admit, if I look at the school year and what is ahead, I could self-ignite an internal stress that could keep me awake for days. A few years back, I started breaking a school year down using the marathon analogy. It is not a sprint! Marathons give us check-points. Marathoners have strategically-placed water stations to replenish fluids and know exactly where they are during the race. A marathon runner paces themselves to know exactly how they are feeling at each point during the race.
In school, don’t we do similar things? As a school, are your “PROCESSES” allowing for a smooth marathon to take shape from September to June? Incremental growth, daily improvement at something, “small wins” allow for us to keep the jogging going. Keep one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward.
I give the children moments during the year, about five or six, where I tell them where we are in the marathon. The 6 mile, 13 mile, 18 mile, 24 (end of May) and the end of the race where we cross the finish line. Marathoners take that accomplishment with such regard. They know how hard it was and how hard they worked to train to complete the marathon. Remember, I did not say win! The marathon is about effort, hard work and how it pays off. It is about trying to improve on your best time. It is intrinsic motivation. Growth mindset at its core.
Boys and girls, look what you’ve done! Look at what you’ve accomplished over the course of the year! You worked so hard and improved so much! Again, not about who are our highest performers or lowest performers. It’s about our processes as educators and how we take children on a learning marathon to get better each day! Once we stop looking at the grade on top of the paper and understand the importance of the effort that is put into the work, growth can occur. Taking ownership as educators and leaders to not only grasp, but to exemplify how students can reap the benefits of the nutrients that mistakes have will be a game changer for all of us.
A couple tips to start the school year marathon off the right way;
- Be clear with your messaging – Stay with it. The year is a journey, a marathon and not a sprint. Talk about it as much as you can and to whomever will listen.
- Create checkpoints during the year tied to your calendar. Where are we in the marathon and what are you noticing. TELL EVERYONE what you see. Your voice matters.
- ALWAYS REWARD THE EFFORT AND ENERGY FROM EVERYONE INVOLVED.
If the “Marathon” is well organized with the proper mindset going in, you will exceed your own expectations. Translation – “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves”.
Have a great school year.