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The Connections Between Better Instruction and A Better Life by Vernon Wright

You’re thinking right or at least you believe you are. You enjoy this thing called “teaching”, and love seeing students reach their own epiphanies. These are the “A-Ha” moments you treasure. Truth be told though, you’ve had those moments when you wondered while helping others, whether you’ve sacrificed your own life and pursuit of things you once hoped for.

When you’ve mentioned this to those close to you, some have said to just focus on “what’s best for kids”. Yet still, others have left you with the impression that pursuing a better-quality life is somehow selfish. Unequivocally and without apology, I’m here to shift your paradigms to give you a new way of seeing things.

Let’s face it. We’re multifaceted people. We’re educators and some are even leaders, but that’s not all that we are. We’re moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, community volunteers, mentors, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs and so much more. If you’ve ever seen your students away from school at the grocery store, the mall or a restaurant, you know from experience that some are shocked to know that you actually live outside of the school.

Yes, indeed you’re a human being. Speaking of being human and as educators being deep thinkers, did you know that there’s a connection between better instruction and a better life? Yes, there is and more so there are commonalities between the two that maybe you haven’t heard spoken to before. So you’re probably wondering what’s next and where I’m going with my thoughts.

For those that know me in my professional and personal circles, you know that I have for many years had a keen interest in how people can serve others on a larger scale and concurrently honor their own dreams and desires. I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive. I believe many educators feel this way and have an abundance of “will” in their hearts. So you may then wonder what the disconnect is. I firmly believe that it’s not a lack of “heart” or “will” but instead is a need for more “skill’.

So what are our next steps to develop and increase that skill? Enter four questions adapted from the late Rick DuFour’s Four Essential PLC Questions but with a twist. The four questions have a focus not on instruction but on our lives as adults. Here are those four questions again adapted from the original instructional point of view:

1. What are you expecting yourself to accomplish and know in the next 12 months? (Your personal goals)

2. How are you going to know whether you’re making progress on those goals or whether you’ve achieved those goals? (How you measure/self-assess each day)

3. After you’ve invested time, energy, and other resources into your goals, what are you going to do if you still haven’t achieved them? (Different approaches/modalities to reach the same, desired end result)

4. What are you going to do if the goal you set is one you’ve achieved fairly quickly and easily? (Do we stay with that goal or do we “enrich” our lives and go beyond to extend that goal to something else?)

If we’re asking our colleagues the Four Essential PLC Questions in an instructional context in PLC’s, then why aren’t we asking very similar questions of ourselves when it comes to our lives as individuals? Reinventing our lives and becoming more doesn’t necessarily mean reinventing the “wheel” and having to create totally new systems to help us elevate our lives. It’s simply a process where we as adults reflect on what we’re already doing for others (students and colleagues) and adapt that for our own lives.

Using a simple construct like the Four Essential PLC Questions shows how there are often commonalities between instructional best practices and life strategies we can use to become more and serve others on a higher level. We assess student work on a classroom basis, a grade-level basis, a subject-matter basis, and even at the campus level, but why don’t we assess our lives with the same level of introspection?

Whether we realize it or not, whether you call them correlations, coincidences or something else, the interconnectedness between effective instructional practices and strategies we can use to guide our lives is too similar to dismiss and is so uncanny that it can’t reasonably be denied. So the next time an educator wonders aloud what they can do to revamp, redefine, and transform their life into something more fulfilling, tell them to look at what they do for their students and staff.

The same constructs, systems, and modalities, when adapted, might just be the very things they can use at school as well as at home honoring both their professional and personal lives. Both of these realms are who we are as educators. We’re multifaceted people. We are both and seek to honor both not only as our contribution to our schools and communities but also to society as a whole.

Vernon Wright Twitter: @TheWrightLeader

Vernon Wright

Vernon Wright is a veteran educator, leader, speaker, show host, associate editor, and entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in large, urban school districts and has served in a variety of roles including teacher, teacher leader, campus administrator, and central office leader. Vernon has shared his experiences numerous times over the years at the campus, district, regional, and state levels garnering acclaim and accolades from recognized industry leaders and peers. Whether a part of his work with DisruptEDTV as show host, #NoheaKindreds as Associate Editor or EduMatch, Vernon unabashedly stands as a voice for the people with no apologies as he welcomes you to the #ZeroApologyZone.

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