I recently saw a post on social media asking people to share their favorite “good” movie of the year. Not great, just good. Some of the answers included Detective Pikachu, Yesterday, half a dozen live-action Disney remakes, and Downton Abbey. I’d seen a few of these movies and largely agree with viewer’s assessment. They weren’t bad, but I probably wouldn’t watch them again given the chance. To be honest, I doubt anyone will even remember them by next year.   

Sometimes “Good” isn’t Good

As an educator, it’s tempting to camp out in the “good” circle of teaching. Life is so much simpler when you don’t take risks or strive toward positive change. Being great often means sacrificing stability and familiarity in order to foster personal growth. And that’s SO HARD!

The thought of making the climb from good to great can be terrifying. But if we don’t strive for greatness in teaching, how can we expect our students to do the same with their education? Why should we expect them to think critically or creatively when we don’t either? If we really want our classrooms to become positive spaces for developing minds, we’ll need to shake things up and step into the unknown!

One Step at a Time

Here’s a five-step guide for transitioning from good to great:

  1. Have a vision. Imagine your version of an extraordinary classroom. How do you want to describe your classroom in less than 10 words? What does that look like?
  2. Inspire support. Share your vision with your administration. Encourage them to believe in what you’re trying to build. This is easier with some administrations than others, but keep in mind that ‘what’s best for the kids’ is always a place to find common ground. Garner support where you can. Ignore detractors.
  3. Give yourself permission to fail. Extraordinary doesn’t come easy. You will not become the inspiring teacher you hope to be in a day. Your plans may fall flat, and you might look foolish. Who cares? When you find what works, it’ll make for a great story.
  4. Bring students along for the ride. Let them know that you’re trying new things and that you’re not afraid to fail. Showing them your vulnerability will build a genuine connection and though they may laugh at you along the way, in the end, they’ll help you succeed.
  5. Remember to take a breath once in a while. Teachers hear a lot about perseverance and never giving up until you succeed, but push too hard and you’ll likely burn yourself out. It’s okay to camp out in the “good” space for a time if you need a break, just don’t make it your final destination. Refresh yourself when needed then jump back into the race!
Take the Leap!

Let’s face it, most people are experts at being good, but teachers should strive to be great. It may sound cliché, but if you’re searching for greatness, you are probably the only thing standing in your way. Let go of your doubts and take the leap from good to great!

What about you? Are you ready to make the leap from good to great?