Public School Educators and Administrators: You Did It!

There’s a poster of fire-throwing pitcher, Nolan Ryan in an old 1991 Nike ad with Ryan’s impressive stats at the bottom and a motivational bucket list on the left side running top to bottom.

  • 99-year-old marathoners.
  • 94-year-old swimmers
  • The back of SI is full of them. People who forgot to retire. And never got old.
  • People who realized:
  • It’s easier to keep going
  • If you never stop.
  • Get up. Get out.
  • Build up the muscle.
  • Get rid of the flab.
  • Go back to school.
  • Sell the TV.
  • Master the curveball.
  • Pound the bag.
  • Rebuild an engine.
  • Jump-start a career.
  • Bench press four big plates.
  • Dig for fossils.
  • Bicycle across Canada.
  • Save an endangered species – yourself.
  • The only one who can tell you you can’t, is you.
  • And you don’t have to listen.

(photo of Nolan Ryan) Nolan Ryan, 7 no-hitter, 5,453 career strikeouts, 44 years of age.

I love the ad. Its simplicity and brevity speak loudly of personal conviction, responsibility, and ownership for what one accomplishes or fails to accomplish in life. The message implores the reader to just get up and do it.

In the Nike ad, the target is the recreational athlete in all of us. But what might such a list look like for educators, particularly those in Race to the Top states? Here’s what I came up with.

  • 41-year old school reformers.
  • 67-year old Common Core Curriculum Writers.
  • 23-year old early adopters.
  • Public school halls are full of them.
  • Professionals who realized:
  • It’s easier to implement than resist,
  • If you stay sharp and persist.
  • Go to, and get out to workshops.
  • Enhance your cerebral networks,
  • And those of your students.
  • Get rid of the textbooks.
  • Go back to school.
  • Sell the TV.
  • Master the Common Core Instructional Shifts.
  • Pound the fluency drills.
  • Rebuild your curriculum.
  • Re-energize your career.
  • Create interdisciplinary units of instruction.
  • Probe student understanding.
  • Write tight Student Learning Objectives
  • Conduct data-driven instruction.
  • The only one who can tell you you can’t, is you.
  • And you don’t have to listen.

And so it goes. With testing and the school year rapidly coming to a close, it’s fair to say, “We did it!” Congratulations to the many teachers and school/district leaders who persevered through a challenging and at times frustrating year of school reform. You did it! Yes, we don’t know our student scores yet. And yes, teacher and principals’ results based on the HEDI scale (highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective) depend on those student scores, among other things. Regardless, through adversity comes strength. Congratulate yourself on managing the challenges to do the very best you could for your students and colleagues. After all, isn’t that why we entered this profession in the first place: to do what’s best for our students and communities? You did it!


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