3.4 Inspiring Excellence
The fourth descriptor in the Growing Deep Framework for leading the team is inspiring excellence. This descriptor involves holding high standards and inspiring and encouraging excellence. This includes agreeing to clear performance goals, providing autonomy to deliver outcomes, acknowledging positive achievements and taking decisive, yet pastoral action. Ensures that under performance is addressed and excellence is upheld in the best interests of students and the community.
Educationally, we want to inspire excellence in all we do. In our teaching, in our practice, in students learning, we want to inspire excellence. Sir John Jones talks of the need for schools to develop learning environments that encourage the relentless pursuit of excellence. Excellence does not mean perfection though. Seeking, pursuing, inspiring excellence comes down to these three things for John Jones; passion, warmth and righteous indignation. By passion he means, what got you into teaching in the first place? By warmth, he means the emotional connection with the student that is needed for learning to be effective. By righteous indignation, he means that outraged sense of justice over something that needs to be changed. Where these three qualities intersect Jones says you have that relentless pursuit of excellence. To inspire that in students and colleagues is to breathe life and a passion to learn into them. That’s literally what the Latin word inspiro means “to breathe into”.
Theologically, excellence is more about becoming than being. From a Christian standpoint, we might naturally view excellence as related to human effort and achievement. Theologically, it could be seen to run counter to the issues of sin, our weakness and our total dependence on God’s grace. But as Christians, excellence does not have to be about competition, selfish ambition, or personal achievement. Excellence in life and learning is about doing the best with what God has given us. This thinking presents God as the primary referent of excellence. Developing excellence then is often grounded in a life of attentiveness. Attentiveness to what God is giving us, and how we can best use those gifts for the service of others. Striving for excellence for the Christian is deeply communal, shaped by love, and focused on strengthening others. It is also a product of faithfulness and love. As Paul writes in first Corinthians twelve, verses thirty-one where he segways into his famous chapter on love; I will show you a still more excellent way... Excellence is more a direction to travel than a destination achieved.
Show us Gracious God, how to inspire excellence in the students we serve. Give us passion, warmth and righteous indignation. Breathe into us your life giving Spirit. Rekindle in us the passion for teaching and learning which brought us to this vocation. Make us attentive to what you are doing in our lives and in the lives of our students. Help us to be faithful and loving in the calling you have given us. Amen.
 Sir John Jones a noted British educator was a keynote speaker at the 2017 ACLE in Adelaide.
 K.R. Armstrong, Resurrecting Excellence; Should Christian ministry strive for excellence? https://www.faithandleadership.com/programs/spe/articles/200505/20050427f.html
About this site
"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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