Back in November, a colleague and friend, Kim Palmisano over at Special Ed Sanctuary, introduced me to a tiny red book with a cartoon school bus on it. She insisted that it would change my outlook on teaching, just as it had done for her when she first read the book. Little did I know that this 164 page book would take me deeper into reflection about both my personal and professional accomplishments, than any other book had. Fortunately, our school’s reading specialist and my unbelievable mentor, Colleen Noffisnger of Literacy Loving Gals, partnered up with her “teacher twin”, Kristin Richey at Reading and Owl of the Above, to launch the next installment in the #D100BloggerPD book study, Move Your Bus by Ron Clark. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do yourself a favor and add it to your list of “shelfies”, you won’t be sorry. It’s an incredibly quick read, and applies not only to teachers and administrators, like Ron Clark, but across all dimensions of the professional world.
If you’re just joining us in our journey, thanks for jumping on. You can catch up on all of the blog posts from this Book Study by visiting Literacy Loving Gals kick-off post and use her “link-ups” at the bottom of her post to follow along. Each blog post should connect to the next person’s post.
My portion of the study starts off in part three of the book entitled “How to Map the Route.” In this section, Ron Clark shares some strategies on how to become a more effective “driver” of the bus. Think of the driver as the individual trying to steer the organization; principal, C.E.O, founder, etc. I found that this section in particular provided lots of opportunities for reflection in both of my roles as a teacher and a business owner.
Chapter 23- Allow Runners to Shine
A “runner consistently tries to go above and beyond what is required” of them. (Clark, 4) I envision a runner as someone who sees any assignment as a challenge, essentially asking themselves, “how am I going to take this to the next level?” They are constantly reflecting and challenging themselves for the betterment of the company. However, a runner is only able to move with this type of “forward-thinking,” if he/she has the proper guidance from the “driver.” A type of driver who allows his/her “runners to shine” in every sense of the word. Ron Clark prefaces the chapter with a story about himself as a young teacher, when an administrator asked him to keep the door of his classroom closed. The administrator requested this because other students, parents and teachers were becoming increasingly “jealous” of the “happenings” in his classroom. Clark complied, but inquired, “why do the ones who do the most have to downplay” their work? (Clark, 124) As a “driver” it is very important not to “hide [the runners] light under a bushel basket.” (Clark, 125)
It’s crucial for drivers of any organization to create a safe space for runners to feel encouraged and uplifted to always WANT to do more. Often times, Clark says, runners are perceived as a threat, and joggers, walkers and riders, will band together to discount the hard work of your runners. This jealousy will cause your runners to feel defeated, possibly even wanting to leave the company, feeling like they’re the only ones putting up a fight and pushing for hard work for the company. The question then becomes, “how can I let my runners shine, without stirring the pot and creating resentment among other workers?” Unfortunately for some, there is not one solidified answer. However, Clark reminds drivers not to hide the light of runners specifically because holding back a top performer “does nothing to further the goals of the organization.” He claims it is like asking an Olympic Gold Medalist to slow down during a race so the other runners don’t feel bad. Clark simplifies it when he says that the jealous individuals have to simply, “get over it.”
This thought reminded me of the mentality of our younger students. For example, a teacher compliments a student on her “pretty dress” and every other student in the classroom runs up to the teacher asking if she likes their shirt, shoes, hair-do, drawing, etc. They don’t let one another shine, because they quickly become jealous and want the attention on themselves. As educators, if we are aware of this primary behavior, why do we behave like this in the workplace? No employee or leader paved their way to the top by belittling the accomplishments of those around them. Instead, we should be lifting one another up and join in on each other’s journey. Just like a teacher must help a kindergartner understand that it’s okay if she compliments another student, a driver, must not only empower the runner, but also must help individuals who seek to marginalize the efforts and contributions of runners, to “get over” their jealousy and instead turn that animosity into something that supports the growth of the runner and company as a whole.
How do we do this? Clark tries to explain a little bit further in his next chapter, “Help Joggers to be Their Best Selves”
Chapter 24- “Help Joggers to be Their Best Selves”
Chances are, a company will not be comprised of all runners, you will likely have many joggers in the mix as well. Business leaders, “drivers,” must work with “joggers and figure out ways to boost their performance.” (Clark, 132) Boosting the performance of a jogger can be tricky for the simple fact that they may expect that one major project throughout the year is enough to keep them at the top of the leader board, and still reap the benefits and rewards. It’s important to plant your joggers near runners, Clark says, because they could very likely be “inspired to run just by the company they are keeping.” Essentially, the joggers will want to work harder when planted near a runner, to keep up with that runner.
Think of it as running in a major race. You’re nervous and scared that you’re going to be mediocre, but as soon as the line in front of you takes off and you’re surrounded by energy and excitement from all the other LITERAL runners around you, you immediately feel empowered, like you could fly, or change the world. That’s the same concept that Clark is describing here.
He also makes the claim that by giving joggers projects that align with their passions, that the buy-in from joggers may be significantly increased as well. It’s important to always check in with your joggers to make sure they are being supported as well.
As an educator, I have found my marigolds and runners who I feel I learn from and grow from every day. I have found these people in my building, in my district and even across the country on social media platforms, such as twitter. I know my place with them and I know that by planting myself by their side, I will grow with them and they will help me in my professional journey, just as much as I will help them in theirs. We are truly present when we are with one another and this bond and relationship is something I never want to lose.
However, as a business owner, I reflect on this in a different way. My biggest take away or question has quickly become, what do you do when you’re so passionate about the work that you’re doing, but can’t find anyone else who is as passionate as you are? For the past three years, I’ve built a business on my own, hoping that at some point down the road there would be some “buy-in” from other individuals in the field or “dance world.” After all, isn’t that how all great businesses or non-profits take off? One person spear-heads the idea and along the way they find someone who has completely bought into what they believe and together they make something amazing. I have yet to find that passion amongst anyone else, yet.
Now please don’t take this as me saying that I am not being supported, because that is so incredibly far from the truth. Over the years, I have had so much financial, emotional and even sometimes physical support from my family members, friends, colleagues and local business owners, that it’s almost overwhelming. I have so many people to thank and I worry that their devoted efforts go unnoticed. I hope they know how much I appreciate each and every one of their efforts no matter how big or small. Everyone has been so kind, and supportive and has truly helped grow Chance to Dance into what it is today. All of what I’ve done would not have been possible without the help of these very special people who are so near and dear to my heart.
However, aside from one of my incredible friends and colleagues, as far as someone to work with and lean on daily, to divide tasks between, to bounce ideas off of, I have yet to find that. I have yet to find that passion or the buy in. My 16 year old sister has quickly become my business partner, and although she’s never danced before at least she’s a body in the room so that when one of 37 Kindergarten through Second Graders say they need to go to the “potty” she can be there to take them. I’m so thankful for her! However as I expand, I’d love to find more help, more teachers and more individuals who have that business sense. I’d love to hear some suggestions about finding individuals who are willing to be as passionate and dedicated as you are in the business world and where you can look for help.
All in all, no matter where you work or what you do, you should ultimately be looking for others who inspire you. Try to find passionate individuals and leaders who have dreams and goals that mirror yours and latch on to those people. While chasing their own dreams, these special individuals will help you and push you to achieve your own dreams. Allow others around you to shine and let their light cover all of the darkness, negativity and jealousy. Don’t hide behind your accomplishments for fear of hurting someone else. Sparkle and shine as bright as you can and most importantly remember that “blowing out someone else’s birthday candle doesn’t make your’s shine any brighter.” Drive by example and model the mentality that we can all be runners and we can all succeed.
Follow along with the rest of the study and catch the reflection on chapters 25 and 26, on The Bazz Blog coming to you live on Wednesday, February 24. Don’t miss out!