Eliminating Excuses

I watched Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s famed TED Talk How To Fix A Broken School, for the first time several years ago now.  But something she said during it stuck with me.

“Eliminating excuses at every turn became my primary responsibility.”

Primary responsibility.

Cliatt-Wayman’s philosophy is simple.  Students who start behind the 8-ball needn’t spend their years peering out from behind it.  In other words, starting in disadvantage is not an excuse for a life lived beneath your personal potential.

It’s a powerful message.  How do we even know what our students’ potential is if we habitualise excuse making on their behalf?  And it’s such an easy trap to fall into.

Have you heard many sentences in your staff room that commence with “Well, the reason he can’t is ….” and then conclude with:

  • …. because of his home life.”
  • …. because he’s on the spectrum.”
  • …. because he struggles at maths.”
  • …. because he has anger issues.”
  • …. because he’s a pain in the neck.”
  • …. because his sister was exactly the same.”
  • …. because he’s so poor.”

And for Victorian educators in lockdown, the excuses are now more available than ever before.  It isn’t an easy mindset to adopt, but if the excuses and the ‘because statements’ didn’t exist, then what might be possible?

This isn’t about disrespecting the trauma, physiology or lived experiences of our students.  That’s real.  It’s about holding that concept just lightly enough that we can also carry some hope.

And these kids are routinely those who need something better to hope for, even in the toughest of times.

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. Queensland Teachers and School Leaders … you can still get involved! The week after next, we’ll be working with you on Restorative Classrooms Strong Classrooms, Leading School Culture, Leading Whole School Behaviour Improvement and Leading Teacher/Staff Wellbeing.  Click here and grab your seat now.

PPS.  I just thought I’d point you to Amy’s blog this week.  It’s a ripper!  If you’re a Victorian needing some wisdom and inspo re Staff Wellbeing (and let’s be honest – you need that!) then just click here.


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