Every educator benefits from a memorable, meaningful mission statement — a single-sentence encapsulation of where they’re trying to go with their students. Class time is too precious to be spent wandering aimlessly through the Himalayas; we’ve got to know what Everest looks like, know what we’re about moving toward it with our students, know that the journey has an aim.
I’ve guided thousands of educators through crafting an Everest sentence; I’ve not guided enough to repetitively weave their Everest language into daily communication with students.
“The greatest barrier to communication,” Adam Grant recently argued, “is the illusion that it occurred.”
Saying it once isn’t communicating it.
Saying it a dozen times isn’t communicating it.
In the course of a school year, we want to say it — in ways that seem natural, in ways that fit with what’s happening in class, in ways that respond to the looks on students' faces or problems we’re running into as a class — *hundreds* of times.
Like broken but beautiful records.
Grant goes on with a musical analogy of his own: “Great communication is like a song. It isn’t enough to hear it once. You don’t know the melody until you hear it multiple times. You don’t know the chorus by heart until you’ve repeated it many times. If you want to be heard, it helps to spell out your idea more than once. If you want to move people, you have to say it more often. If people aren’t telling you you’re repeating yourself, you might not be communicating enough.”
In other words: when your students start rolling their eyes when you start bringing your Everest language into instruction yet again, you’ll know that you’re on the right track.
Thank you to Kim Marshall, whose most recent memo put me on to Grant’s ideas.