Don’t just do something—stand there

michael_reve_academy

17 Apr Don’t just do something—stand there

Are you a do-er? A planner? A get-it-done-at-all-costs kind of team member? As a former teacher, I know the feeling. Throughout my career, a flawless performance has been rewarded. I spent so much time cultivating that part of my identity, I came to believe that’s all I was: an achiever.

It took me leaving the classroom to remember how to pause. That it’s important to pause. That it can be highly strategic to pause.

When I began working at Rêve Academy, I was determined to excel. What that meant was putting in long hours, taking every scrap of feedback I could get, and maintaining my trademark enthusiasm—even when I felt like crying. And three years ago, it also meant that I had little time for small talk. Or rather, I didn’t make time for it. So when Michael (pictured above), then a high schooler from North Minneapolis, wanted to chat, I didn’t make time for it. Until one day I did.

That’s when I learned of his innate drive to succeed—something we had in common! I also learned about his passion for design, love of blues music, and thoughts on politics. This kid was deep—how did I not see that before?! Maybe it’s because I was spending my time trying to design perfect experiences and outcomes in an effort to validate my identity as a do-er. Now, I’m creating new practices.

Because I’m not chasing flawless execution, I’m able to enjoy what students bring to the table.

Because I don’t own all the planning, I see young people take ownership as their own planning skills develop.

Because I’m not coordinating every moment, I get to be present for—and celebrate—the small victories along the way.

Is this process messier? Certainly. Have I missed some self-imposed deadlines? Absolutely. And it still causes me great discomfort most days. But I am committed to stay the course. I want to try to do less that I might know my students more.

Amanda Janssen
Amanda Janssen
amanda@reveacademy.org

Amanda is Rêve Academy's Executive Director.

  • Carter Romo

    Love it. Great post Mandy! Best line (IMHO), “Because I’m not chasing flawless execution, I’m able to enjoy what students bring to the table.” Boom.