Monday, August 3, 2015

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” - Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz is an iconic figure and formidable coach, known for turning around failing football programs and recruiting great players.  He has been head football coach for some of the greatest colleges in the country, written or contributed to ten books, worked as a commentator for CBS, and continues to work as a motivational speaker. Coach Holtz is famous for his ability to inspire and motivate others, and as I read the quote which I used for the title of this week's blog, I thought about how much self-motivation Coach Holtz must retain and replenish in order to have had such a storied life and career.  

It is the same for teachers. Having, retaining, and replenishing self-motivation and motivating others is a MUST for every teacher. 

Although other professions morph continuously from case to case, project to project, problem to solution, teachers have a definite beginning and end to each segment of the years in their careers. Each career year begins in August or September, with Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks in the mix, then a long stretch with no break until Easter, and then the grueling and grinding time to get it all in before making the finish line in June.  Add in the stress of new technology, new gradebook programs, added responsibilities, hovering parents, students with special needs and accommodations, IEP's, creating new lessons, Common Core, testing and more testing, and trying to balance school with real life, and it is instantly apparent that teaching is a stressful job, and not right for just anyone.  Like Lou Holtz, a teacher must maintain self-motivation in the interest of self-preservation, and a teacher must be able to share that motivation and inspire others.  If you think this sounds like a job for a superhero, I agree.
                                                                                                                                                                  Today is August 3, and for many teachers, the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the new school year will be arriving more quickly than anyone is anticipating or desiring. Now is the time to do a "Lou Holtz", and think about some ideas for self-motivation and for motivating others.  Perhaps on a rainy day, you can go into your classroom and make a new bulletin board.  Have you thought about an online website just for your classes?  Parents and kids will all be "in the know", and you need only a few minutes per day to do updates, once the setup work is finished. Reflecting back to last school year, is there a lesson you would like to tweak to make it be even better? Are you working with a new team or new colleagues?  Sharing some time and some lessons and planning before the school year begins will make the beginning of the school year less harried.  Do you really need to clean out the junk from your teaching desk (which you ignored at the end of last school year)?  A rainy afternoon is all it takes to help your school year get off to a better start, and you might even find your stapler and three hole punch! 

As the school year progresses, it is impossible to stay self-motivated every minute of every day.  When you are down, take out the notes you have from students - the ones that thank you for making a difference in their lives- and you will be refreshed and  renewed, because you are a teacher.  You are a superhero.  You can do this.  Remember Lou Holtz.

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