Harry Wong
Oct 2017
Vol 14 No 3

The Words We Use

By Bill Powers

Principles of Success - Colorful WordsI just finished reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive and walked away with many key thinking points to ponder and use as I continue to focus and refocus on my purpose and drive to be a better person and principal.

In Chapter 6, titled Purpose, Mr. Pink wrote about WORDS. He pointed out the “pronoun test” used when listening to people in an organization answer questions about the company. Do workers refer to the company as “they” or “we?” One simple word can tell you much about the employees thoughts about the company.

Immediately my thoughts go straight to OUR school.  TOGETHER WE can accomplish so much more than WE can alone. OUR students and OUR families are OUR partners. WE collaborate with one another in order to get better by working smarter and not harder.

Another point Mr. Pink made in regards to the WORDS we use is that many times organizations and people focus too much on how something will be completed when we should be focusing more on the WHY we are doing what we do.

I can’t think of a better way to explain our purpose and drive as educators. WE should focus on WHY are WE doing this. WHY are WE teaching this concept? WHY is this an important topic to teach OUR students? WHY do WE allow OUR students choice in producing and creating to show learning? WHY did a particular student act out? WHY do we include character education in what WE do? WHY – I could go on and on.

One study shared in Drive focused on a group of Call Center representatives for a university fundraising operation. The workers were divided into three groups. Each night before making the calls one group was given a brief story from previous employees  about the personal benefits of working in the job – earning money, developing communication skills, and so on. The second group read stories from people who had received scholarships from the funds raised and who described how the money had improved their lives. The third group was a control group and worked as they usually did. Participants were told not to discuss what they’d read.

So what took place? The second group that read personal stories of scholarship recipients raised more than twice as much money, with twice as many pledges, as the other groups.

Another great example of how having a PURPOSE DRIVES people.

So, let’s ALL spend more time focusing on the WHY. WHY do WE work in education? Let’s dig deeper to answer WHY we teach certain concepts. WHY this topic is important. WHY students need to learn this strategy. WHY WE must push our students to think critically, collaborate, and communicate more effectively. WHY I facilitate and let the students do the work. WHY WE must dig deeper than simply memorizing facts. WHY do WE assess? WHY WE must allow OUR students to FAIL. WHY it is okay for US to FAIL.

WE must also dig deeper to understand WHY students are different today than they were last year and definitely different than 5 or 10 years ago. WHY WE must change and adapt to the 21st Century way of learning by incorporating technology when appropriate, facilitating the learning by providing the tools necessary, and WHY WE must give up control of our classrooms and let the learning get messy.

WHY? Because OUR students depend on US and need US. That’s WHY!

Bill-Powers-blog-image 2

About the author

Bill Powers is principal of Cherokee Middle School in Springfield, Missouri. His blog is cmslearning1. Follow Bill on Twitter: @MrPowersCMS


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This entry was posted on Monday, April 1st, 2013 and is filed under *ISSUES, April 2013, Bill Powers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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