A lifter is one who elevates circumstances. A floater is one who easily navigates circumstances. You must decide to be a lifter or floater in education. One should not step into the “ring” of education, especially the New York City public school district as it is the largest in the nation, and not know your contributions. We all can take a lesson from the Mayweather vs. McGregor boxing fight. A case of experience vs. exceptionalism. Floyd Mayweather: An American, Professional boxer vs. Conor McGregor: a UFC lightweight champion and novice to boxing.
School communities want to yield exceptional results. However, we must be wary of the path taken. We need the long-term benefits of experience and the robust energy of exceptionalism. Both Mayweather and McGregor are gifted in their own ways. We have a ten-month academic school year and Mayweather finished his 50-0 record in the 10th round. This finish was not as predictable as many critics believed. Education stakeholders can draw five lessons from Floyd Mayweather’s and Conor McGregor’s respective approaches to the match.
Point One: Experience
Floyd Mayweather competed from 1996 to 2017 and entered the ring Saturday, August 26th with an undefeated record of 49-0. He dominated rounds 4-10. Mayweather was slow to gain his footing in the beginning and hence, came to understand his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
Take-Away: A history of achievement can lead us to float in the beginning of the school year. It is essential that we hold fast to what has worked. But we also need to be mindful of getting caught off guard at the onset. Every person involved in educating students must act quickly. Take the first three months to understand your respective school communities. Get involved and become a part of the conversations around educational issues.
Point Two: Exceptionalism
McGregor endeavored to engage in bold pre-fight predictions which, combined with his fearlessness towards stepping into the ring, opened the pathway to exceptionalism.
Take-Away: We must be confident and competent in our workings with students. They do not get a second chance. From community meetings to superintendents visits to lesson-planning, each contributor’s purpose is to push for meaningful improvement in students’ achievement.
Point Three: Defense
Mayweather is a defensive genius. He did not succumb to McGregor’s strong start.
Take-Away: We need school communities to defend our most vulnerable students. When a right punch cuts budgets or staffing is low, school communities must not fall victim to these real challenges. When parent engagement shifts or our congressional districts seemed to have turned a deaf ear, we must guard our students’ development.
Point Four: Offense
McGregor’s start was strong. The first three rounds of the fight showed the significance of his strength; he was the aggressor. “When McGregor gets in close, he seems to be hammer-fisting…” as stated in Mayweather vs. McGregor: Highlights from Every Round.
Take-Away: We educators need to come into the ring swinging — to be on the offense. Crossing guards are necessary to ensure that traffic is appropriately directed. Administrators must set high expectations and ensure that our students’ environment allows them to flourish. Parents’ participation on the Parent-Teacher Association and attendance at school functions needs to increase. On a broader scale, The Panel of Education Policy must aggressively engage communities across the five boroughs. In addition, the Panel’s review of budget and policies must effectively establish priorities.
Point Five: Fatigue
As the fight continued, Mayweather’s experience revealed itself and McGregor’s fatigue began to show. “McGregor’s previous 10 fights had lasted an average of less than nine minutes. Mayweather had averaged more than 33 minutes in his previous 10 fights,” according to Howard Kussoy’s NY Post article.
McGregor started moving slowly and Mayweather was quick to take advantage, pushing forward and eventually earning the win with a tenth round TKO.
Take-Away: For some, fatigue is the real enemy and yet our students can’t be on the receiving end of it. Use your time wisely. Consider what activities are rejuvenating; engage in those unapologetically. Collaboration is key. Share the workload.
Point Six: Stopping
Combat sports result in a winner and a loser. The referee gets in the middle and knows when to halt a fight.
Take-Away: Times will arise in which all stakeholders will feel combative. It is during this time that it is most critical to consider the true goal: advancing students’ knowledge. Students need us all to be the winner and act accordingly on their behalf. Do not allow any entity to interfere with your efforts. Tap into your areas of expertise. Conjure strength from within. In the end, know that experience prevails!
This school year requires all of us to remember that both experience and exceptionalism are needed to begin strong. It’s imperative for educational stakeholders to view every child as having the capacity to consistently become winners in their personal battles so that they are deemed “undefeated.” We must stand as a unified front and as a community enter the “ring” knowing our opponent. Regardless of any hits or blows endured, we must remain focused on student achievement. We need lifters to finish strong, as this is the root of experience. We need floaters who will begin another academic year effortlessly, as this is exceptionalism manifested. Know your contribution.
I ask you again, are you a lifter or floater in education? #CarryOn