Best self, best work

It is the mantra at my school this year – Best self, best work.  Our administrators started the year at our kick off assembly talking to the kids about this phrase and what it would mean for their school year.  Each day since, the morning announcements end with “Best self, best work.”  The kids have actually started to say it along with my principal each morning.  So, I began to reflect…

What does it mean for me?

My favorite thing about this mantra is the idea of best.  Best doesn’t mean perfect or flawless.  Best isn’t the same thing every day for every person.  Best challenges without insisting on the superhuman.  Best is never ending, there is always room for improvement.  I would hope that our best shows growth throughout the school year.  Our best will give us a redo the next day, and the day after that.

The next piece to the mantra is self.  We each bring our own individuality to our learning community.  We need a variety of passions and strengths to give our students what they need each day.  Each member of the community needs autonomy to learn in their own way, students, teachers, and administrators alike.  Learning is a personal, individual activity and schools provide a place where we all share the experience.  We form relationships that in the end better ourselves at least as much as the academic studies, if not more.

And finally, not to be left out is the concept of work.  Learning is full of vigor and hard work.  If we don’t bring our best self, the work may seem impossible and more difficult than it actually is.  Learning is a demanding process, not to be taken lightly.  Work is a key part of the mantra, it is the promise that it won’t always be easy, but if you bring your best self and persevere, you will succeed.

The expectation is clear – bring your excellence, bring your individuality, and bring an inquisitive persistence to seek knowledge.  I can’t help but smile when I imagine the greatness that will abound if everyone just subscribed to this simple request each day.

Best self, best work.

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  1. Garnet Hillman September 30, 2013 at 7:40 AM - Reply

    Thanks Joy! Remembering to bring my best each day has been a great experience this year. Never perfect…just best!

  2. Joy Kirr September 23, 2013 at 7:26 PM - Reply

    I have to remember this for myself, as well as try to instill it in students. I expect so much of myself every day, and I just can’t do it all. I can do what I can, and try my best, but have to relinquish the fact that it won’t be perfect. How have I been brainwashed to think it needs to be perfect?! I know you’ll work hard at bringing this message to your students – your passion, as always, will be contagious!

  3. Jasper Fox Sr. September 15, 2013 at 9:22 PM - Reply

    Interesting idea for a school wide mantra, I’ll be looking forward to hearing how it goes. Hopefully it sticks because it seems like a powerful one. My only question is what happens if a student (or teacher) has a bad day and doesn’t give their “best”? Are there systemic supports in place so that this wouldn’t become demoralizing or alienating?

    Any attempts to cultivate positive climates for learning should be applauded. This initiative in your school sounds promising and the fact that you as a teacher there seem to have internalized it means its off to a great start!

    • Garnet Hillman September 16, 2013 at 9:25 PM - Reply

      I am definitely excited for the positive culture we are working toward this year as a learning community. As educators, we must remind our students that each day is a new opportunity, no matter what happened yesterday. Even though we challenge them to bring their best self every day, perfection is not a viable expectation. Just keep growing, learning, and improving!

      Thanks so much for your comments, Jasper!

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