Where do I want my school to be one year from now (June 1, 2023)?
Given that it’s NBA championship time, I’m going to answer that question by reflecting on two legends from the Golden State Warriors and by borrowing some of the language of sports. If people look around the room during any faculty meeting — and whether they like it or not — they are all teammates to each other. And sometimes, they are the coaches of one another. So they are always teammates and sometimes coaches.
A year from now, I would like for us to be able to say that we found joy in our work by encouraging each other and by noticing what is great or emerging in each other. In fact, that’s the only way that I know of to consistently find joy in this work.
So back to basketball and the Golden State Warriors… If you’ve ever listened to audio of Steve Kerr coaching his best player — Steph Curry — you will find that he always tells Curry to keep shooting, even when Curry is missing shots. And he trusts Curry, even when Curry is taking crazy, circus like shots. There is never a moment where he allows doubt to creep into his relationship with Curry, in part, I think, because he can’t afford for Curry to doubt himself. They argue, sure, and they disagree, but the Coach (Kerr) never wants the player (Curry) to doubt his talent. Not for a second. All he wants to do is to encourage Curry to be Curry. And, next June, I’d like to be able to say that more of us treated more of us that way, when called upon to support each other.
And… as pure teammates, there’s another thing to learn from the GSW. If you’ve watched the NBA finals, Curry hasn’t been that consistent. He’s had some rough patches. And yet his team is still leading the series. And that’s because other, lesser known players have really stepped up. These are players that no one in the league saw coming. And some of the best photos from the games have been photos of Curry looking at these players with great pride and clear joy. Even when he himself is not having a great game, he is clearly enjoying and appreciating and cheering for the efforts and successes of his teammates. He’s happy that their talents are on display. He’s happy that their hard work is paying off. He’s happy that his team is succeeding, close to winning a championship, even if he himself is having an off day.
So next June, I want to be able to say that I spent more time encouraging others to be great in the ways that only they can be great and appreciating them for being great in the ways that only they can be great. Watching them teach a lesson that they can really go deep on, listening to how they construct lessons and wrestle with their craft, overhearing them connecting with a student, seeing them lift up a colleague when they are in need, noticing that they put out fresh flowers at the school’ entrance, and catching all the ways that they tell each other — and me — to keep shooting, no matter how many we’ve clanked off the rim.