Gold Medal Teaching

Photo by interphasesolution

It is difficult not to be impressed by the accomplishments of Michael Phelps over the course of his Olympic career. There is no doubt Michael Phelps is a talented swimmer who has worked extremely hard to become the most decorated Olympian of all time. As accomplished as he is, Michael Phelps still has a coach.

Even while at the top of their game, athletes rely upon advice given to them from people who have never accomplished their level of success. Their continued improvement results from effort, dedication, sweat, and often the trust they have in a coach.

Are the coaches as good in their respective sports as the athletes with whom they work?
Clearly not, yet they are able to help the athlete improve.

Can I teach as well as some of the teachers in my building?
Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps some. Not others.

I work with teachers with more classroom experience than me.
I work with teachers in disciplines that are not my strength.
I work with teachers who are better teachers than I ever was.

Can I help my teachers to improve their practice? Without a doubt . . . if they are willing.
The Gold Medal teachers are willing.

As principal, I have the obligation to evaluate our teaching staff and to ultimately assign each staff member an effectiveness rating. But assigning ratings doesn’t help my teachers improve. It doesn’t make us a better school.

As principal, my goal is to help each of our teachers grow their practice.
I want to help them each be their very best.

I encourage.
I question.
I suggest.
I guide.
I coach.
I work alongside them as they continue to hone their craft.

Swimming has only one Michael Phelps.

They cannot all be the very best.
But they can all be their very best.

Image courtesy of interphasesolution at