A while back I had the opportunity to interview a few candidates for a teaching position that was available in my district. After participating in the question and answer session with more than a dozen potential future teachers, the selection committee and I began the arduous task of deciding who to bring back. I have been a part of many such decisions and what I have learned is that rarely are jobs offered to a person simply because of a powerful resume. A resume may get a person an interview. Who they are as a person will get them the job. This was true in this situation as well.
As we went around the room, everyone began sharing their opinions and perspectives on each candidate. Each person had their own lens in which they were evaluating the potential new hires, which is exactly why such committees are brought together. The goal is to mitigate the influence of any one perspective, allowing multiple vantage points to be represented. As the conversation wrapped up, it was obvious that one candidate was receiving overwhelming support. To summarize why, allow me to quote directly from a committee member, “She just has ‘it'”. After screening more than 75 applications and resumes, after speaking on the phone to more than 25 people, after sitting through a full interview with 8 certified and qualified individuals, a job was going to be offered to one person because she had “IT”. What is “it”? That is indeed THE question.
In my last book, I described IT as Bold Humility. Others describe IT as an infectious personality. Everyone seems to have their own opinions on what IT is, but that doesn’t stop us from talking about it. For such a small word, it has an incredibly large impact. As a matter of fact, IT has led to some of the best debates around.
For example: Who is a better basketball player, LeBron James or Michael Jordan? Both are great, but who is better. Who has more of IT than the other?
Who is a better runner, Usain Bolt or Dean Karnazes? One can run 100 meters faster than anyone on Earth, the other can run the entire Appalachian Trail faster than anyone in history. What is IT that makes someone a great runner?
Who was smarter, Einstein or Hawking? How do we define intelligence? What is IT? IT is of major importance in the world of education because IT is why we do what we do and how we measure our success. To some, IT is training up young people to live a life of integrity. Others believe IT is a focus on critical thinking and problem-solving. Others believe IT is the ability to recall and repeat complex vocabulary and factual information. Policymakers spend their time ranking schools based on who has IT and who doesn’t using their own subjective determination of what IT is. Administrators hire and fire based on their beliefs of who has IT and who doesn’t.
If we want to make schools a better place, if we want to find even more success than we do now, we need to stop focusing on tricks, gimmicks, and programs. If we want to improve, we have to start by focusing on IT. Once we define IT we can improve IT. Until then, we will just keep chasing our tail because we will never know when we achieve IT. Want to know where to start? Check out my recent blog What the what?! It might just get the ball rolling where you work. Want to be a part of the ride? Sign up for the Lasting Learners newsletter and be in the running for FREE giveaways every single month: http://eepurl.com/cQwHA1
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