Where’s You Focus?


So I am in love with this quote. If you are an educator, I hope you do too. A friend of mine tweeted this a week or more ago and it has completely stuck with me ever since. How can it not?

I am pretty sure when someone who has been as successful as Nick Saban gives advice on “success” it may be a good idea to stop and listen.

In the education world results are what’s measured. Unfortunately not progress. Students are measured by results – grades, standardized tests, benchmarks. Teachers are measured by results – pass/fail rate, students’ standardized tests, ability to write and post good lesson plans and objectives. Schools & the administrators are measured by results – AYP, student attendance, students’ standardized test. Results are almost the only thing looked at by people outside the school. Results are measurable.

In college football results are measured too, ask Gene Chizik. Saban has a job that looks at results just as much, if not more, than we do. At least no one is calling the radio shows to complain about that lesson we had that bombed. Yet he keeps focused on the process.

Just because results are what are measured, it does not have to be our focus. Results are the “what” but it is the “why” and “how” that get us to the “what.”

Over and over this year I have become frustrated at the “results” I am seeing in my classroom. The test grades, the apathy, the constant not doing tasks, but I must remember to look at the processes just as much as the results. I need to look at the fact that this time last week only 8 of my 1st period students completed the assignment AND followed the directions, but look at everyday we went through the process again that more and more finished the task – correctly. And look at today, exactly a week later, on a similar assignment only 5 did not do it – 25 did! We focused on the process, though I may have had a small rant about the results, I refused to stop there. And little by little it got better, they began grasping what I was asking of them and not only that, in the process were learning ways to do things differently. They also learned that doing it 1/2 way wasn’t going to cut it. I was learning exact words to use to help them understand. I could’ve given up and told them the answers, instead we spent days (and now I am behind schedules with less than 30 days left! Help!) redoing it. Trying again. Working on the process.

I am sure the quote could’ve just spoke for itself. But y’all know I am worse that Dr. Doofensmurf when it comes to a backstory. Also, I’ve said this many times this is a place for me to reflect and work out things going on in my world, writing helps me do so. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder for me in the future.

Remember focus on the process. Results will come but it is the process that brings us there. It’s the road you travel to get there. It is what brings the success.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. suecowley says:

    You’re right, we get so hung up on results, but we forget that it’s the process (as well as the progress) that matters. However, there’s a danger with the notion of progress as well. Here in the UK, the inspectors are now looking for ‘rapid sustained progress’ within every lesson, in order to give teachers an ‘outstanding’ grade. But surely it’s not possible to achieve this in every lesson? Surely sometimes, a student has to go backwards for a bit to then go forwards? And other times, the ‘progress’ is not academic, but social, or emotional, or behavioural, and not easily measured.

    My suggestion to all teachers would be: sometimes, don’t have an ‘end product’ in mind – focus on the process, i.e. the generation of ideas, or of learning, and then 50% of the time, don’t let your students hang onto their beautiful ‘end product’.

    Sue Cowley

  2. Howell Wright says:

    Great insight to what is needed in the classroom. I have not commented in a while to your posts, but it is clear that you get it and are truly a gifted educator and a teacher leader. Keep up the great work and approach.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thanks Dr. Wright 🙂

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