Good to Great: Moving from “Me” to “We”.

Our teachers are great and they really care for our students.  Of this I am sure.  If I were to ask any teacher in my time here at UAS what it is that drives them, I believe they would universally say “my students”.  So why, then, are we not the top-performing school in Dubai? Why do some students feel that this school is not helping them to achieve their Personal Best (at least not yet!).  I think there is a simple answer to that question... if “I am here for my students”, then perhaps students who are not mine perceive that I am not here for them. I have seen similar issues in good schools that have the potential to be great ones.  This school has the potential to be beyond great.  This school has the potential to be extraordinary!  We can be one of the named schools across the world, if we change our mindset from “me” to “we”.

Moving from me to we is easy to say but hard to do.  Instead of “I am here for my students”, I ask all members of the community to say “we are all here to make this school better for all our students“.  Recently, I challenged some leaders in the senior class to reach out to the greater community.  The students chose to approach the junior class about their ideas for the Senior Lounge.  When we put in the Senior Lounge, the students had many concerns. They were worried that “they” would do “all” the fundraising and “no-one” would support them. By including the junior class in the development of the senior lounge, these young leaders are developing a sense of “we”. The Juniors will have a voice in developing the space that they will inherit in a year’s time.  They will have a voice in shaping the space so that it won’t be such a chore to make it their own come next September.

Last week, Mr. Torris initiated the school’s first Community Faire.  The event brought parents, students and teachers together.  I was fascinated to meet members of the community and learn more about what they do.  It was a great event and very much a “we” event.

img_3063   (parents, teachers, and students enjoying the Community Faire)

They.  Everyone.  All.  No one…  I hear these words a lot at UAS.  There is nothing wrong with these words in and of themselves.  However, the context of these words is everything.  These words in the context of “me” can be quite detrimental.

  • “They” aren’t going to listen.
  • “Everyone” is going to be upset.
  • I have to do “all” the work.
  • “No one” cares.

However, what if we consider them from a mindset of “we”.

  • “They” look like they could use some help.
  • Let’s try to get “everyone” involved.
  • We can “all” do a little bit more to make this better.
  • “No one” should feel left out.

I do not mean to say that we are completely in a “me” paradigm.  I see a lot of “we” around the school and it is getting better. The first two weeks have been a great start.  As a community we are going to look at ourselves very closely over the next 10 months and really begin to identify the parts of this school we want to improve.  We will also make sure we do our best to preserve and celebrate the best parts of who we already are.  Next week we have three whole-school events.  On Tuesday, we will be celebrating our athletes by inviting the students to come cheer on the volleyball team at 2:00.  On Wednesday we will have our Back to School Night at 6:00 PM in the MPH.  On Thursday, we have a whole-school Aspirations assembly at 2:00 where local businessman and fitness guru Marcus Smith will be in speaking to our students about the lessons he learned through failure.  Parents are welcome.

When the tide comes in, it lifts every ship.  “We are here to make this school better for all our students” is going to take some time.  It’s going to take patience.  It’s going to take compromise and it will never be perfect.  That’s not the goal.  The goal is to move from good… to great… to extraordinary.  Every student at UAS deserves this and it is achievable if every member of our community works together to make it happen.



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