Education is a Team Sport

Every time I have a speaking engagement or consult, I hope the people that I serve have very high expectations of what I do.  Not only do I want them to have high expectations of my work, I want to exceed their expectations. Having extremely high expectations of yourself, can be numbing and discouraging, as you tend to look at little details with a higher significance.  One of my favourite quotes that I have heard recently was from former NBA basketball player Jalen Rose;

Happiness is a function of expectations.

Simply put, the higher our expectations are for ourselves, the harder it is to be happy with a job simply well done.  It has to be better than that.

But there are very few positions in any organization, where the success of an individual isn’t tied to the work of the team.  Some people seemingly get more glory than others (which can be frustrating), but for any one thing to be successful, there are always several components behind the scenes that others don’t see.  These small details in the hands of others, are crucial to success.

I thought of this last night when I was stuck on a plane on the tarmac for an hour, just waiting to pull up to the gate.  I do my best to not be frustrated by travel, or else I would be frustrated all of the time.  What struck me though was as we were sitting on the airplane, the pilots apologized for the delay and said, “Just to let you know, this is not due to a mistake of the airline, but of the ground crew.”  As we got off the plane, one person complained to the ground crew, and their response?  It was the airline’s fault.


It is so much easier to place blame than to take responsibility.

As I was listening to people blame one another for the poor service, I was thinking of Bill Belichick’s ‘ mantra, (head coach of one of the most successful NFL franchises, the New England Patriots) “Do Your Job”.

In this article regarding the connection to this mantra and leadership, “Do Your Job” simply can mean, “being prepared, working hard, paying attention to the details and putting the team first.”  The article then goes on to acknowledge five key components on why this mantra is crucial to building a successful organization:

  • Communicate the Game Plan
  • Set Expectations for Each Player
  • Practice the Fundamentals
  • Provide Immediate Feedback
  • Encourage Trust and Inspire Confidence

In education, the magic that happens in a classroom is not only because of the teacher. The principal, the custodian, the secretary, the IT department, transportation department, and a plethora of other groups are crucial to create an experience for students that will not only be amazing and unforgettable, but of great value.  The thing that is frustrating for many teachers that work directly with students is that a lot of the “magic” is out of their control and the responsibility of someone else.  When we all don’t “do our job”, we have to understand that we all look bad, not just the teacher in the classroom.

Education is a team sport.  Let’s make sure that we each do our part and exceed the expectations of those that we serve. Every detail and job counts.


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