I played on the boys golf team in high school. My first year was rough – I had no business being on the team. Luckily the coach knew my family and let me participate in spite of my lack of experience. After my freshman year I got serious and actually began practicing on a regular basis. I played from the white tees on the hardest course in town everyday. It wasn’t easy. In addition, I played with the best boys I could find. Girls were too easy to beat – I needed to play with boys if I really wanted to push myself. I won’t put myself in the same league as good athletes but I will say that this is a common story of athletes that excel. They practice up. They practice with people that are much better than they are. Although it is at times humiliating and at times frustrating, in the end it makes you a better player.
I have been thinking that teaching is really the same way. You need to surround yourself with people that are “better” than you are. Collaborate with people who are passionate and surround yourself with greatness. Inevitably, this will improve your game.
I have spent the last twelve years practicing up. I have worked with some unbelievably talented educators. I am leaving my school a better teacher and administrator because it was easy to practice up everyday.
As I say goodbye to my colleagues tonight I am feeling grateful and hoping that I have helped others practice up as well.