Greatness at SHS: A Strategy

Being good is a challenge. It is a level of competence one can be proud of and pleased with. The reality, however, is that good is not great, which means it is not good enough. In fact, good is the enemy of great. We need to be great. All of us should aspire to greatness, and I would suggest we need an aspiration of greatness. I would love to be ensured that everyone associated with Selwyn House shares that aspiration. Simply put: Don’t be good, be great. 

A little self-awareness is required, along with a heavy dose of self-reflection. Each of us needs to look at our own personal and professional situation, and honestly discover where we are good and where we are great. Then, there has to be a personal reflection on how to achieve greatness. 

As a start, I would suggest that every member of our faculty review our definition of a Master Teacher that was completed in preparation for the Master Teacher workshop in New York this past February. Our four teachers who attended the workshop (Claudine Martel, Matt McCarney, Brad Moffat, and Roman Pylat), in their own personal way, epitomize the concept of Master Teacher. They will be the first to explain they are not perfect, make plenty of mistakes, and face the intense insecurities that all great teachers face; but they are masters of their professions. They were wonderful representatives of Selwyn House while in New York, and they were so impressive with the work they completed. So read through the list and ask yourself honestly where you stand on each of the points. I have also attached a list of twenty-five factors great teachers have in common from an article by Patrick Bassett, outgoing President of the National Association of Independent Schools. Humility is important, as it will allow you to understand the discipline required to reach the level of greatness by becoming a Master Teacher. I should also add that each of these points relates to your role as coach. I will be commenting on coaching and athletics at a later date.

For everyone else on our wonderful staff, you must go through the same process.  Selwyn House needs everyone to be great, whether you teach, coach, support, maintain, cook, clean, process, or assist.

Over the next little while, I want to start the conversation with many of you about greatness. I want to discuss ways to become great, both from an individual point of view and an entire school perspective. That is what professional development is all about. It is quite personal, and your own personal learning plan is required to reach higher and higher levels. A striving for greatness needs to be an obsession.  
Over the next few weeks, I will be a bit presumptuous as I offer my thoughts on greatness on a variety of topics and themes. Specifically, I will be discussing and writing about:  greatness in athletics, why curriculum mapping is necessary for curriculum and pedagogical greatness, the connection between greatness and professional development, greatness with French and the vibrant Quebec culture, the role of teacher evaluation in creating and maintaining greatness, the physical environment and its relation to greatness, greatness through experiential education, the role of the arts, and even more mundane thoughts on dress code and staff rooms. Each of these will be written about in a separate piece and each will be based on my own opinion with support from legitimate data. They are reflections and will hopefully cause you to reflect on your contribution to greatness. Remember: good is the enemy of greatness, and we are going into battle against the enemy.