Skip to main content

Remember to Sweep the Floor

I just finished reading Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy. This book might easily make my top five books of the year because of Holiday’s ability to take history and make other people’s experiences helpful as we try to understand our own lives.

Holiday’s work serves as a reminder of two things for me. The first is that what we do is more important than who we are. He discusses Bill Walsh, former coach of the 49ers, when explaining the concept of a “Standard of Performance” (108). When we focus on what should be done and when and how, we can instill excellence. And Holiday argues that it’s this attention to exacting standards that is more impotrant than a grand vision. Like Walsh has said, if we pay attention to the small details, “the score takes care of itself.” Holiday ends this chapter with this: “Instead of pretending that we are living some great story, we must remain focused on the execution–and on excuting with excellence” (113). If we focus on the former, then ego gets in the way and we’re distracted from accomplishing our most important work and, instead, commit time, energy, and effort into convincing others of something that could happen naturally by just focusing on the work.

And the second is that our work, especially as teachers, takes perpetual refinement. It is never just done. Toward the end of the book, Holiday mentions his friend, Danielle Bolelli, and how Danielle once told him that “training was like sweeping the floor”: “Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep.” This part is so important in our personal and professional lives. Just because we read something once doesn’t mean it’s readily accessible in our memories. Just because we taught something at the beginning of the year, like a routine, doesn’t mean students remember it entirely after break. We might have to “sweep” to resurface. And when we sweep, we become more refreshed and readily able to tackle our most important work with a clearer, more attentive mind.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.

This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent
-----
To the Editor:
This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education.
During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to…

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

My Year in Reading

Although I won't meet my goal of reading 165 books by midnight tonight, I did read quite a few great books this year worth sharing. Other personal goals including reading more with my ears and getting over my hesitancy to read non-fiction. I did accomplish those two, although it's taken me months to get through the audio version of Endurance (I think this has caused a bit of an audio reading slump). I categorized my favorites of this past year below:

Picture Book: A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

This book reminded me of words and their ability to lead us down thousands of different paths and journeys. Children and adults can appreciate the intertextuality of this book. Stories change us forever.

Non-Fiction: What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine by Danielle Ofri

This is a book that I seem to mention to every teacher friend of mine. There are so many parallels between the lives of doctors and teachers that we really need to explore how we can become a…