Striving to be an All-Star through continuous improvement

I’m a hockey fan and have been since the day I was dragged to my first Columbus Blue Jackets game during their inaugural NHL season back the year 2000 when I was in my undergraduate education program at Wilmington College of Ohio. I didn’t know what in the world was going on at the time, but I knew I liked it. From that moment on I was hooked and have remained ever since. Columbus Blue Jackets 2000-01 inaugural season highlights

Hockey is now by far my favorite sport to watch and follow. It’s beautiful. Poetry in motion. Every pass along the blue line, check, odd-man rush, or one-timer requires near perfection in order to be executed properly. As I write this blog post I’m watching the midseason classic better known as the NHL All-Star Game. My beloved Blue Jackets have been rewarded for having a strong first half of the 2016-17 season by having three players representing the organization.


As I watch this game in particular, while no the players aren’t skating at full strength much less making contact I’m reminded of how incredible these players all are to make it to this point. They all are playing in the top professional hockey league in the world for starters but not only that are the best of the best within that league. Impressive, eh?


While all of these players have natural gifts, talents and for most part have played the game the vast majority of their lives, yes, they all must constantly work to improve their skill and refine the technical aspects of each of their own weaknesses to be the best player they possibly can be. Do any of the players at this level today especially settles for “good enough?” No way. Each of the players in this game is grateful for being here and striving to #BecomeBetter daily. They all know that as hard as it was to get to where they are today there are so many players within the NHL, minor leagues and in college eager to take “their spot” nothing is given.

Looking at this through the lens of education – we are all constantly learning and growing. Or are we? We are professionals. Constant growth and improvement should be a significant part of what we do. Whether we are a first year teacher or in the district central office with 20 plus years into our career we all should be striving to be an All-Star in education.


Building your PLN, reading, reflecting, conferencing, repeating. Growth, growth, growth. This is beyond “mandated” professional development sessions or book studies at the school or district based level. Personalized professional development, genuinely wanting to grow, learn and reflect is when the magic happens. That’s when the “spark” in the eye occurs and when the great educators make the push toward All-Stars.


Pictured above – Allison Stewart and Rachel Lawrence are amazing educators in our district. These two ladies are All-Stars but are constantly reflecting, reading, connecting and growing to refine their craft. So much of what they do is self-motivated above and beyond behavior. This is the overall betterment of students they serve as as well as their own personal growth. They are All-Stars but both know they must continue to work at “maintaining” that “status.”

Are some educators true All-Stars? Absolutely. However, it’s imperative we continue to learn, grow, soak up information and put it into practice or else we will slip in our craft just as the players in this game will if they “let up.”


I lead by example with the above mentioned. I’ve always been considered a reflective educator throughout my career but I’m constantly doing the above mentioned, taking risks and reflecting upon my practice. These help keep me sharp and push me to strive to be a better educator always. We should all aim to be the best we do in all we do daily. In life and career. So the choice is yours – the puck is on the ice. Are you going to strive to be an All-Star?


4 thoughts on “Striving to be an All-Star through continuous improvement

  1. juliettekuhn says:

    Once again, your analogy works perfectly with this topic. I love the risk taking related to sports because while many can see that, they might not see the importance of taking risks to move forward.


  2. Bill Ferriter says:

    Hey Pal,

    This is a good read. It has me thinking about Alexander Semin — who played for the Capitals and then the Hurricanes. He had incredible natural talents and should have been a beast — like Ovechkin.

    But he was lazy and relied on talent only — and talent didn’t carry him very far when everyone around him was working really, really hard to improve.

    The truth is that talent + effort = success. If success equals a 10, and you are a solid 7 on talent — a darn high rating — you still aren’t going to be successful without investing some effort into your continued growth. That goes just as much for teachers as it does hockey players.

    Hope you are well and happy!

    Rock on,


    • BrendanFetters says:

      Thank you for reading and your kind words, Bill! The Semin analogy is perfect in this situation — perfect example of a player who relied upon talent alone — and we all know how that worked out for him in the end.

      The other side of the coin is CBJ’s Cam Atkinson who is defined all odds to even make it to the NHL and is having a career year despite being grossly undersized. Great read in Sports Illustrated yesterday –

      This analogy aligns so well with educators of all walks and level. We must be “sponges of constant improvement seeking” or we all will slip in our “craft.”

      KOKO -Brendan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s