Keep your eye on the ball


Teaching is an incredibly challenging and fulfilling profession. It’s emotionally charged and demands and expects so much of us. As teachers we give everything we’ve got to see our students be successful and thrive.

This posting is a very personal one, with a powerful message for us all.

Leadership is challenging. And to be a good leader you need to make tough calls. While good leaders aim to be transparent and involve others in the decision making. To that end there is so much that teachers don’t see. They don’t need to see. And as leaders we need to shield teachers. While every effort goes in to creating a positive and professional culture, there are times when a decision falls the other way. As professionals we need to respect that and know that we are all trying to do the best we can to create the best conditions for learning. There are obvious ebbs and flows in our line of work. And when we begin to question ourselves (which we do) or lose confidence in why we are leading down a particular path, or not. We must keep our eye on the ball. I read a profound quote from Steve Jobs today. It said, “If you want to make people happy, don’t get into leadership, sell ice-cream.” How true is that….

We hear teachers say, ‘it is about the kids.’ This is why we are doing what we do, every single day. Yesterday, I was feeling rather deflated. It happens. More frustrated that we still have teachers who just don’t get it.

And then I received an email. Like the universe was dropping a piano on my head to snap me out of my funk. We must keep our eye on the ball. I’m listening!

Above is a photo of Kevin and I during my first overseas post in Sweden in 2006, where I was teaching a grade 3/4 composite class. Kevin’s mother emailed me saying that she was clearing out his room and came across a book with a letter I wrote to him.


Tine, Kevin’s mother, wanted a photo of me to give to Kevin as something special for his 20th birthday. She went on to say, that I was Kevin’s best teacher and had the most impact on him throughout his schooling. One of the sentences I wrote in the above letter stated the importance of following his dreams and how I would ‘love to see where he was in 10 years….’

Well, I got my answer and it could not have come at a better time. One that made me quite emotional. It hit me like a lightning bolt. No matter how tough our job gets, we must keep our eye on the ball. Our students. This is one of these times, when we say it is about the kids and mean it with a full heart. Every word! Kevin is now at Coventry University studying Motorsport Engineering. He is following his passion – formula 4 championship racing. I got goosebumps reading the email from his mother.


The other takeaway I got from this is the importance of knowing or finding out the paths our past students take later in life. We need to find a way that makes that tangible. This is where the real fulfillment comes from in our profession. To appreciate that we had a very important role in their lives. There is no better feeling when years later, our students of ‘tomorrow’ look back, reach out and say you made a difference – look where I am now! That is what this is all about for me. Moments with impact. We have so many moments with our students. Moments we don’t realize the gravity of and how that stays with our students years beyond moving on through their lives. As teachers, we must keep our eye on the ball. It is beautiful moments, stories like these that make it all worth it.

I am fine with the tough talks, making calls and challenging negativity. This is because I have my eye back on the ball today!


  1. Ann

    It’s great to hear from former students, isn’t it? As educators and leaders, we never really know when something we say or do will have an impact on someone, which is why it’s so important that we keep our eye on the ball and do what we believe is right.

  2. sherrattsam

    Love the timing of this post, Chad! I just went out with the parents of Stefan from NIST – he’s doing great and also competing on the wakeboarding world tour with Victor.

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