The Call of Teaching: A Gift

“The gift to teach is special and requires giving of yourself to help others help themselves.” – Teresa Duke

Simple point… The person who wants to do the work and teach recognizes teaching as a gift. It is not an “or” statement. The gift is the ability to want to do both.



Everything we do as teachers connect to the world positively or negatively in education. Great teachers have a gift equipped with some supernatural ability to open up a student’s mind by imparting knowledge to help better society.

The gift to teach can be carried out in many different areas. It may be carried out in the classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms, ball fields, etc. It can even be carried out outside the educational setting. In whatever capacity, the gift you have as a teacher involves imparting that gift of knowledge to others.

Recognizing you have a gift to teach, sets you apart. I believe that great teachers sense a call to teach and those who do, have that gift. Having the gift to teach sends a powerful message to students and other educators as well. It causes something to stir in the hearts and minds of others; it intensifies the gift even that much more. Realizing that you have this extraordinary gift to teach, solidifies your value as an educator. This is why it is important to exercise your gift of teaching. It makes you have an inner drive to dig deep within yourself and exhaust all efforts to change a person’s life.

Giving and receiving a gift is a novel concept. If you have a gift, usually it is for someone else, and you want to give it to someone you know who will appreciate it. If this is the case and as an educator, why not give your gift of teaching to others. Odds are, there will be someone divinely appointed in your path, which it is intended for, and will more than likely appreciate it very much.

This is the gift of teaching. Do you have it?

Next week we will talk about Character…


©2018 J Clay Norton

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The Call of Teaching: Desire

“Vocation” comes from a Latin word: VOCARE. It means “to be called”. I don’t work. I live my calling. Everyone’s calling has messy parts and costs them something, but when you are called there is no option not to answer it and pay the price to do what you love. That’s living. –        Brian Kight

Well, here we are again… The start of a new school year. I hope each of you had a great summer and are ready to tackle the next 180 days of the next ten months as we embark on another journey of educating the future.

As the faces of students and teachers change, one thing stays constant, the ideal of what teaching should be.

As we start today’s blog, let’s ask this question, “Can the high calling of teaching be placed on a pedestal?” At some point, we are all called to teach. We do it every day, conscientiously or not.

But, a teacher (and I am talking about those that are great at what they do) makes a significant contribution to the lives of their students.


Who are these teachers? Instead of giving you one long list of reasons why in one blog post, today I would like to provide you with one of four thoughts for the first part of our school year. Each idea is significant and can stand alone. However, when you put the whole list together, you get a powerful example of what the call of teaching can look like.

They are the ones who…

Have an overwhelming desire to do the work of teaching.

The one thing a teacher does on a daily basis is they step out of their own families to another family for eight hours a day. By the time a teacher gets home, eats, does homework, go to ball games, the time with their own families is very limited.  I say that to say this…

Teaching is a step forward to serve (I find it more and more that many teachers want to be served). Their passion to teach is so strong that the pull of the outside world and it’s negativity is negated inside classroom walls with the belief that yes, a student can learn and be successful even when that student does not do their part. A real teacher feels so strongly about their involvement with education that it is not merely something they want to do, but something they must do. This is what a desire to teach encompasses.

Do you know these types of teachers? Yes? No? Guess what; they are both out there. Some are giving oxygen and life while others are taking oxygen and life from what teaching should be.

As the new school year begins, only you know where you are with your attitude of teaching and what it should be. Better yet, if you are in denial about the whole idea, then do not worry… There are plenty of teachers who “get it” and understand the way it should be. All you have to do is start asking the students, they know.

Also, never lose sight of this as well…  Really good teachers are leaders.

For those who want to know what the next three topics to “The Call of Teaching” are, here you go.
Week 2: Gift
Week 3: Character
Week 4: Crisis for Good (not sure about this title yet…)


©2018 J Clay Norton

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GPS Leadership

This past week, our family had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, CA.  My wife had a counseling conference to attend, and my daughter and I made it a vacation.  Now, if you have never driven in LA, then you do not know what you are missing.  The rumors are true.  It is slam packed, turtle moving, and prayers needed. We had to make a lot of Ninja and Jedi moves to get to the correct turns sometimes.

We rented a car and used the GPS on our phones for directions.  As I reflect, I found a lot of leadership lessons from the trip and the GPS.


Good leaders need a great wingman.

I found myself a few times telling my wife or daughter, “Talk to me Goose.” The classic line in Top Gun with Maverick and Goose.  They both did an excellent job in guiding me where we needed to go.  Leadership is like that.  There has to be trust and communication. You have to have someone on your side, by your side who is going to help you because it benefits the whole group, not just themselves.

Good leaders plan for the long road.

We were going to Anaheim one evening, a distance of only 26 miles.  1 hour and 39 minutes later, we arrived.  No one in LA says, “I’m just going to run over there real quick.” Leadership takes a look at what is ahead and determines the path to take.  It may be long, slow, stressful… but at least you are doing something.  Too many times, it is too easy to say no, let’s not do that.  It will take too long.

Good leaders sometimes make wrong turns.

Every day, I made at least one wrong turn.  LA is full of forks in the road and merger here and merge there lanes.  The great thing about missing a turn, the GPS will always recalculate.  That is what happens in leadership.  Sometimes leaders make a wrong turn, a bad decision, an oops and an opportunity to recalculate.  Let’s try that again.  Many times, on our wrong turns or missed exits, we were able to see something that was not planned.  A lot of great leadership decisions have been made in the same manner.

Our GPS made our trip all the more doable.  I would not want to drive in LA blind.  At the same time, I do not want to be leading blindly.  I am not a fan of the “let’s fly by the seat of our pants leadership.”  Too many bad things can happen.

Leaders need a good wingman, a plan for the long road, and an opportunity to recalculate.  If you do not, then you are leading alone, probably shortsighted, and think you never make mistakes.  If this is you, then stay out of everyone else’s lanes that know where they are going.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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Living vs Dead Leadership

Any leadership worth its salt must be evident, not so much by faith, but by the works which are shown to others. If you live your leadership in the faith of hoping others will embrace your leadership, then your leadership is dead.


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As leaders, one of our primary aims is to distinguish between living and dead leadership. Sounds easy, right? Probably easier than you realize, if you are a servant leader in your works that is seen and felt by others.

Three thoughts that can make sure your leadership is alive and not dead hinge on being a servant leader. Let’s see how it plays out…

The cause of living leadership is having your heart in the right place toward others. True leaders know they cannot produce living leadership merely going through the motions. This quickly leads to dead leadership. The leader with dead leadership believes they have the power within themselves instead of empowering others.

The nature of living leadership is a firm belief of the truisms that others matter. Dead leadership is nothing more than emptiness and paranoid opinions that have no real effect on the heart of others. Living leadership, on the other hand, embraces the essence of others and surrounds itself with meaningfulness.

The effect of living leadership is the most important. This is where leadership can be distinguished. What your leadership says about others is more important than what your leadership says about yourself.

What effect is your leadership having on others? Is it living or dead? The beauty and the burden of the effect are that it will be one of the two.

Dead leadership leads others to trust in a vacuum. They get sucked in and just circulate within the chamber of self. Until we start providing living leadership, we are dead leaders walking.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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