Move Beyond Complacency

I said a few weeks back on my update, “Success is a catalyst for failure,” which was shared on the George Couros’ blog. This quote seemed to fit the atmosphere in my school building of “good enough.”  We are doing well by standardized test measures and better than most people would expect in some ways.


How did that sound?  It hurt to type those words actually, but, a complacency has fallen across the building. Is this because of me?  Am I not teaching enough? Am I not inspiring or motivating others enough?


This week I read this quote:


Success breeds complacency.

Complacency breeds failure.

Only the paranoid survive.

—-Andy Grove


In case you didn’t know, the author of this quote it is Andrew Stephen Grove who was born in Hungary.  Hungary was a one party communist controlled country .All businesses were confiscated during this time in the name of “egalitarianism” and became a total dependence on the state or government for their well being and needs. Andrew Grove escaped his country at the age of 20  to the United States. Here he completed his education and became a successful businessman and CEO of Intel.


Think about this man for a minute.  Reread his words:


Success breeds complacency.

Complacency breeds failure.

Only the paranoid survive.

—-Andy Grove


If we live in a state of “it is ok” then the results we get are mediocre. The “paranoid that survive” are those that constantly think good is not ok.  


I feel every organization, school and or business survives, thrives or is destroyed by the principles that uphold this quote. You can survive by doing what NEEDS to be done to function.  But staying in the survival state and NOT changing will ultimately be your demise. It is only by those who are “paranoid” and keep things moving in new directions, growing, and learning which breeds success.

3 Ways to Move Beyond Complacency:

  • Be a Lifelong Learner AND be Willing to TRY!   Learning new things, putting them in notebooks and then on a shelf–does not make change. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new ideas.  What is the worst thing that can happen? No Change? You get that by not trying anyway!
  • Be “OK” with not being in the crowd.  This is hard because we all want to belong and be accepted.  However, if you are stepping out of the box and the norm–you will often be criticized by others.  This is definitely hard but the gifts you do receive are growing as an educator, student growth and self satisfaction. 
  • Be Willing to FAIL.  Failing at something is hard but you cannot win if you do not fail. I often say “It takes a lot of wrong answers to get to the right one,” and that is true.  You will not succeed every time but YOU will gain knowledge and continue to move forward.


Stepping out of comfort or complacency is hard but recognizing it is even harder. If you have fallen into the trap of everything is fine or ok—take a risk and try something new.  It is with this risk and challenge that YOU will grow and OUR school will grow.

Power of the Conjunction

As a school, we have been working to have students speak in complete sentences are now moving towards having them using complete sentences in their writing.  Now that we have conquered this piece, it is time to move forward to compound sentences.


Students need to begin learning to combine ideas so that their sentences are longer and more coherent. By reading complex text, students SEE how authors’ put their ideas together in different and unusual ways.  It is this exposure that helps our students see that we can change up a subject and a predicate or combine like ideas into one sentence. We do not always speak this way and therefore–we do not write this way.


Have you listened to your students speak?  I mean, really, speak. Ask them a question.  Listen to their response. Do they speak in complete sentences naturally?  Are the sentences coherent and distinct or a stream of consciousness? List the characteristics you notice.  Ask your students to write about a topic for a few minutes. Compare this writing with the characteristics you noticed in their speaking—are they similar?


The next step after a complete sentence is a compound sentence. Show students how to combine subjects and adjectives to keep from having to write repetitive sentences.  Begin showing students how they can use conjunctions to tie their ideas or sentences together. A subordinating conjunction which is simply a word that can help you extend your sentences to make them longer and more complex.  Subordinating conjunctions include the words for, but, and, yet, so, or and nor. This can help your students transform their understanding of syntax. For example: Spiders have eight legs. Insects have only six legs. These sentences can become:  Spiders have eight legs, yet insects only have six.


Simple changes can help students extend their thinking and sentences.  More complex subordinating conjunctions include the words: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even though, if, once, since, though, unless, when, that.  These words help students further explain their ideas and make their sentences more complex. We use the conjunction because to answer the simple question of why!


Taking the above sentences:  Spiders have eight legs. Insects have only six legs.  We combined these with the conjunction–yet. Can it be done other ways?

  • Spiders have eight legs but insects only have six.
  • Spiders have eight legs even though insects have only six.
  • Insects have six legs though spiders have eight.
  • Insects have six legs when spiders have eight to help them sense prey on their webs.


How did the use of conjunctions change my last sentence?  It is important we show students that sentences can be built in many ways.  We want sentences both written and oral to “sound good” but to also provide the most detail in the most efficient way.  

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