January 26th of 2020. It is one of those days I will always remember.
For one thing, it was my sister’s 40th birthday. However, now the day will always also remind me of the moment I learned Kobe Bryant died.
I grew up in the Bay Area, California and sports have always been integral to building my confidence and my understanding of teamwork and work ethic. I’ve always been a Warriors fan and admittedly was never even a die-hard fan of Kobe. However, even Warriors fans and those unfamiliar with the sports world will agree that Kobe is statistically one of the greatest to contribute to the sport of basketball. He was flawed and controversial to some, but, to put it lightly, his death crushed the sports world. .
When I learned Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six other passengers and a pilot all lost their lives in the tragic helicopter crash, I found myself judging my sadness. How can you mourn the life of someone you never had a personal relationship with? Who are you to feel this way? Shedding actual tears over a celebrity is definitely not something I’d predict I’d do, but I’ve come to accept that it’s deeper than that. Kobe was credited not for his natural height or speed, but his work ethic to enhance the talents he did have; this is what inspires me.
In preparing for this blast intro, I asked friends what Kobe lessons would connect well with educators because I knew that had to be the theme. My sister’s boyfriend, Bobby, the biggest Kobe fan I know, pondered on it most of the day and then called me to share the PERFECT quote.
The words are quite simple, yet, they take up meaningful space:
“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” ~ Kobe Bryant
Read that quote again. Is this not exactly what an effective teacher does?!
I couldn’t help but think of our educators and what each of you is doing for your students and communities every single day. Let’s break down pieces of this quote even further to unpack its essence:
- It’s just a three-letter word, but it packs a punch. To me, the word TRY indicates applied courage, attempting.. starting something that may not be easy. To try means to SHOW UP and that’s what is commendable about our teachers and our kids
- INSPIRE PEOPLE
- I’ll be the first to admit that a pandemic can give us reason to want to pause the world and not follow through on all of the grand goals we set before these daunting obstacles presented themselves. However, what do we have without our own ability to inspire and be inspired?
- A key point is that the line says “inspire people” which means that our students might be the ones doing the inspiring. A true teacher is always a student first. How are we noticing the lessons in front of us? How are we opening ourselves up to be moved by student inspiration? Are we letting it fuel us?
- …SO THAT THEY CAN BE GREAT IN WHATEVER THEY WANT TO DO
- To me, this line indicates a reverence for listening. There’s a reason why it doesn’t read …so that they can be great in whatever they should do or even whatever they need to do. This line drives home the idea of choice and agency. After all, an empowering teacher empowers students to grab hold of their own destiny and there is a stark difference between obligation and choice when it comes to listening to what makes us each light up inside.
- Think about how powerful our purpose becomes when we see ourselves as the potential catalysts, the temporary bridges, the encouragers to our students becoming the most exciting thing I can imagine → who they want to be
As you navigate this week, I hope you return to this quote and assess how aligned you feel with its words when you think about your far-reaching role. You are holding this nation up and dictating our youth’s direction with your efforts.
I am both proud and appreciative of your endurance. It’s been a collectively tough year, but we are TOUGHER. Keep in mind that our existence may be temporary, but the goal is to leave an impact that is not.