Thursday, 25 September 2014

Have YOU Made A Good Start To The Year?

It's a good time to have a first checkpoint of the year. For us, 24 days of the term gone. I estimate that, in our school, most exam year groups are going to have about 1000 lessons between the start of this term and the start of their exams. So far they have had about 130 of these. By the end of this week, it'll be 15% through the year. So, I challenged them this morning - "How have you done so far?"

A few years ago, a former pupil came to speak to our teachers about what he had learned from winning two Olympic Gold medals which could be applied to what we do. One of the things he referred to was this: at the end of every day of training, their coach would take the crew to one side and they would talk about their day’s training. Every day he would ask them, has today been a 'gold medal day'? For four years, they would ask that question every day. They believed that it would take gold medal commitment every day to gain a gold medal at the end of four years.

Now most pupils aren't planning towards a target four years ahead, although some may be. For the moment, it's worth looking ahead to the end of this year. Maybe a pupil has targeted a clean sweep of A and A* grades at GCSE. Has the first 24 days been A/A* in quality? Maybe the target is a distinction in Grade 8 of a musical instrument? Has the first 24 days’ music practice been grade 8 with distinction standard? Or a sporting goal: a certain time in the 200 metres - has the training thus far been consistent with that goal. Or it might be three A grades at A level - have the first 24 days been AAA standard.

For those that have managed this, I encourage them to reflect with satisfaction, but also to consider that the good start will be wasted if it isn't built on, because merely to start well is not to do well at all.

For those who haven’t managed to make a start in line with their long term goals: change NOW! Don’t change tomorrow, and don’t leave it until next week. A change tomorrow is half as likely to be put into practice as a change today. If any students get to this stage of the school year and have not started in tune with the goals they have set yourself, the easiest and best time to change this is right away. The longer any of us practice not working in a distinction, or AAA or all A* and A way, or whatever the target we have set yourself, the better we will get at working in a way that will not deliver our goal. 

And, if one doesn’t know how to work in a way that is consistent with our objectives, we must ASK. 

So I encouraged our whole school community to use the question ‘Has it been a gold medal day?’ as a shorthand for the more difficult and more nuanced idea of whether today has been a day in which our attitudes and approach have been consistent with our long term objectives.

And finally, it's worth considering whether our effect on others is to make them have a gold medal day, or to prevent them from doing so - because gold medals are often won in teams, or crews, rather than individually. Even when the medal looks as if it's an individual award, there's nearly always a team behind the medallist, who made it all possible.

Have I had a gold medal day? Have you? Questions worth asking. Every day.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog post and completely in line with what I take to the students I speak to. Without the hard work every day, the success won't come. It seems that in this x-factor culture we live in a lot of students feel that success doesn't take effort - but if you encourage students, give them examples, and the tools to achieve their goals, then as you say, success is built day to day.