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On-Site Staff / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management / Storytellers

The Student and The Teacher

For the past year and half, our team has been working to transform the organizational culture of large educational systems. Though deep and profound as a sentence, we have found that this transformation essentially begins with oneself.  Simple to say and write.  A lifetime to do and practice.  And yet many times we are often asked, “This is great stuff…. But when are we going to get to the real work?”  The Personal Mastery needed to lead and transform large educational systems (especially institutionalized systems) is engaging in this type of work!  Now you may be wondering … “But Diego for reals…what is this “work” you are talking about?”  Recently, the good brother Vinny Ferraro shared this story in his keynote. It explained the work in such a powerful and beautiful way and I immediately thought, “That’s it!”  I’ve changed some elements of the story to fit within our expanded learning context.


A teacher worked with a student for many years.
And for years the student absorbed everything.
And now it was time for the student to go out in the world and implement the work.
The teacher would let the student when to return and share their insights of doing the work.

Years later the student received notification that the teacher had requested their return to hear about their progress of doing the work.
Excited, the student gathered all the materials, journals, templates, tools and rushed to go meet the teacher to share how much their work has progressed.

Arriving a the teacher’s office, the student rushed to sit and share…
But before the student could even speak…

The teacher excitedly asked the student:
“How have you been? How has your health been?  Are you taking of yourself? How’s your diet?”

The surprised student shyly smiled and replied:
“Good… I mean. Yeah, I’m taking care of myself… Thank you for asking… You know I wanted to share…”

The teacher cut him off and asked,
“How’s your family? I remember you spoke fondly and how much they inspired you…”

The slightly agitated student replied a little sharper,
“Fine, they are fine. Very appreciative… You know I was going to say…”

The teacher cut him off again and asked,
“How are your parents?  They were sick years ago and I know they were your pillar…”

The student was struck now… dazed and confused he responded.
“The passed away a few years ago. Thank you for asking… [pause]  thank you … but I really wanted to…”

Again the teacher cuts him and asked:
“How’s your staff.  You know we often talked about the importance of a team and how to build a team”.

The student now frustrated responds…
“GREAT!!! They are great… but my dear teacher my apologies for my being frustrated and loud…  I learned so much from you and your school.  And I went out to the world to practice the work.  And I wanted to share this work with you… but you kept interrupting me…”

The teacher smiled and place a gentle hand on the student and replied:
“My dear student. All my questions were about nothing except the WORK.”

Breakfast today, runny scrambled eggs, potatoes, yogurt, English muffin, water, and coffee.

Author: @diegoarancibia

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1 Comment

  1. Profile Photo

    Such a great reminder! Let’s keep talking about the ‘REAL WORK’!

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