Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#D100bloggerPD: Move Your Bus! Part 1: Chapters 4-5

Thanks for joining me as I continue the #D100bloggerPD blog book study on Ron Clark's Move Your Bus. If you missed the first (and awesome) opening chapters from Colleen over at Literacy Loving Gals, you can check that incredibly thorough post out here. Then, after my post, stay with us every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in February for a new blog post reflection from this fantastic and motivational book. You can always follow the above schedule, follow the #D100bloggerPD hashtag on Twitter, or keep checking Colleen's blog for the newest link to the most recent post. Have you read the book? Do you want to participate? We'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections on the book as well- so if you read and make a reflection post, be sure to share it in the comments! 
Now onto my reflection. I will be reflecting on Part 1: Chapters 4 and 5. Typically, when reading short, motivational books like this one, I like to base my reflection off of quotes that jumped out to my as I read. That's what you're going to see here. I've picked out a series of five quotes from my two short chapters and will share them with you along with some thoughts and musings that I had while reading.
Up first is Chapter 4: Riders are Dead Weight. If you have no clue what a Rider is, you might want to check out Colleen's post (linked above) which explains the ongoing metaphor that Clark uses throughout his book of a bus, a driver, runners, joggers, walkers, and riders. 
As you can probably imagine, a rider is someone, who, on the bus, is not pushing the bus forward in any way, shape, or form. Of course, the bus, being the metaphor for your school, has no need for these riders and as he points out, they are simply dead weight. I think, without getting into details, that if we think about our experience in the field of education, that we all know at least one rider. They might not be at your school, maybe not even in your district, but I'm sure, if you think about it enough, you can identify a rider. Now think about that person. Are they adding to their school? Are they enhancing the educational and impressionable lives of the students they are teaching? My guess is that the answer, to both questions, is no. Clark talks about having worked with a rider in his early education career. He talks about how, as a runner, that he wanted to get this rider on board and at least get her walking. As you can see in the quote to the left, whenever he saw her teaching, he knew it was bad news. And because it bothered him, he tried to help this rider. 
But what he learned, and what is a lesson to all of us, is that riders, as the chapter is titled, are simply dead weight. You can put in countless hours trying to make a rider walk- but at what expense to you? and your students? This is what he realized- that by putting all his effort into this rider, it was only making her marginally better and holding himself back from being exceptional. He sums up his thoughts with the quote to the right- further proving that we need to devote our energy to the right places because just the effort it takes to get that rider to start working is not worth it. At first, this was hard for me to think about- because in a world of Tenure, sometimes there are riders and sometimes we can't do anything about it. However, if that is the case, that should be even more the reason to focus on the Runners- because they will move the bus along in far more significant ways than that rider and innately pick up their slack. Ideally, those riders will then realize that the runners are getting all the attention and all the perks that they will either become better, or leave.  So then as Clark went on to run his own (incredibly successful) school, he just simply operates under the fact that there is absolutely no place for riders. I have to say I agree with him. If you are in the education field and you are not, in any way, contributing to the greater good, then perhaps it's time to find a new profession. 
Next up is probably (it's so hard to pick just one!!) my favorite snippet from my two chapters. I love how Clark gets right to the point when he says, essentially, either work for it or get off the bus. 
You can't have a sense of entitlement just because you are smart. Being smart doesn't cut it- it's what you do with those smarts that matters. So if you're not willing to work, he's not going to put up with it. It's so startling at first to be so blunt (at least to me) but then when you let it sink in, it makes total sense. Why, if you're not here to give your best and work your hardest, are you even on the bus in the first place? Or maybe, you used to be working really hard at pushing your bus forward, but have since lost that passion, why are you still on the bus? Why still in the field of education- where- of any job- we have control of the future! I always like when people say that they have to do a good job at teaching their students because they will be controlling the future. Sometimes people mean it- and sometimes they say it in jest. HELLO!?! That's exactly what's happening here! Why would you not give it your 100%? Or, when you realize you can't do that, fix it or go.
Chapter 5: Drivers Steer the Organization was my second chapter for reflection. As you can imagine, it's about how the driver, in our case the principal, is the one who controls the direction in which your bus (school) is moving. My absolute favorite part of this section was one specific quote that focused on the spirit of the runners in the building. 
As you have learned from reading this so far- runners are what keep your building feeling alive and excited and keep the learning going at full speed. Clark points out in his book that runners are the ones that need to be kept happy- and that yes, they do make the occasional mistake, but that they are working so hard and fast that sometimes, one mistake happens out of a hundred attempts. That's certainly better than one mistake out of one attempt from a rider. So this quote, to the right, focuses on the fact that maybe, when the runner makes that on mistake, don't jump all over them for it. Or don't intentionally overlook an accomplishment of a runner to pump up a rider- at the expense of the runner's spirit. As I mentioned above- keeping your runner going full speed is much better than getting that rider to start working at all. So Clark points out that you must not, at any cost, kill the spirit of your runners. If a runner feels under appreciated or that their work may go unnoticed, then they might slow their running. They might feel as if all their efforts are for nothing. Now, because they are runners, they will likely keep running- but their spirit will be diminished and slowly their max speed might decrease. Nurturing runners is an important job of administrators- not because they are desperate for attention or because they are playing favorites- but because they should reward the hard work of those who are moving the bus the most. 
Following the logic of the last quote, Clark sums it up with this final thought- and I love how, as always, he just calls it like it is. If you want to work for Ron Clark, you must be a runner. If you are that runner who works for him, your life will be great. You'll be supported. You'll feel empowered. You will be appreciated and applauded and you will make the lives of students better every single day. Imagine if every principal in every school had this outlook. What would happen? What would that change look like in your building? In mine? It's certainly an interesting 'what if?' situation- but also, a 'why not?' situation. Why can't every school be full of runners? Why can't we all try, at all times, to be the best we can be? Because, ultimately, it's not about the driver or the runner. Or the joggers, walkers, or riders. It's not even about the bus. It's about the STUDENTS. Let's all just promise that every single day that we walk into a school- we will give our 100% effort to be doing the best we possibly can for the students who fill our classrooms. If that's our goal, our sole focus, I imagine our bus would be moving pretty fast.

If you want to keep following along with this Move Your Bus blog book study, be sure to check out Ginny's post on 2/5 for her reflection on the beginning of Part 2: Chapters 6 & 7. She will be guest blogging at Responsive Literacy.  And as always, follow along with our hashtag on Twitter: #D100bloggerPD to get the latest and most up to date happenings. Thanks for reading!

Want to follow along with us while we read? Grab your own copy of Move Your Bus!