A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

7 to 50: Surround yourself with 'unwitting mentors'

Good morning...

For the next week I am hijacking my own blog.

In one week I will hit one of those milestone years. I am not a birthday person. I don't remember others very well and I don't get too palathered over mine. Yes, Maggie, last year I got palathered, but that was more the iPad than the birthday.

I am reading a interesting book The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared. BTW-I would recommend the book, I am about a third through and it is a charming read. Apparently they've made a movie of the book in Sweden which should be released in the US soon. The trailer is below:

The book has had me thinking the past few days about turning half a hundred. What advice would I give at the halfway mark. So, for the next seven days, I'm playing with ideas. The first one:

You shouldn't be the "smartest", "kindest", "most athletic", "most talented" (insert whatever adjectival whatever here) in the room.

I like to find people who are better than me at something and figure out what I can learn from them.
For example:
  • A young man who is just starting his career in music has been working with me to be a better singer. He is half my age and he is the teacher and I am the pupil.
  • There are history teachers I travel with and collaborate with who unwittingly mentor me to be better at my craft.
  • There are countless people who have made me a stronger person of faith by their presence, example, questions and challenges. My first mentors, Bob and Rebecca, challenged me to seek those sorts of people out.
It relates to my work with youth as well. In a middle school classroom, I may be the most knowledgeable, but I can promise you I am not the smartest. I work with some gifted kids and there will be a time when their knowledge and abilities will exceed mine. And that is a good thing. That is what is supposed to happen.
You can only do that if you are confident in your own abilities. I am a talented singer--but I want to get better, even if the only people who hear are the people in my choir and the church on a couple Sundays a year. (I could get all Kierkegaardian and talk about God as the audience, but we'll save that blog for another day, okay?) I am a good teacher, but I would be a fool not to glean as much from other great teachers. I am also confident in my faith, but in listening and reflecting humbly on whether God is using that person to speak words He needs me to hear, I am strengthening my it. (Sorry, got a little Kierkegaardian again. My apologies.)

You also need to humble yourself. I don't care how old you are, there is more to learn. There is more growth available. There is a great song that refers to stones in a river being washed and honed so that when God picks them up God will: /notice that I am /just a little smother in your hand." My job isn't to be perfect, just a little smoother.

Some of my best experiences have come when humility and confidence align. Sometimes my job is to just get out the way.

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