Mind in Boat

This post is second in a four-part series around our Sticky Core Values. This blog is co-written by Jordan Greene, currently a Taylor Mill Leader and 5th grade teacher, Kim Laughlin currently Assistant Principal and Taylor Mill Leader, and Melody Stacy, currently Believer-in-Chief at Taylor Mill Elementary.


In the 1930’s, during the height of the depression, the University of Washington put together a rowing team that would go on to win a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics as told in the book The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown . Before they could get to Berlin for the Olympics, the nine boys put in countless hours under the tutelage of coach Al Ulbrickson. As part of their training, the boys knew they had to keep their mind in the boat. As soon as they started to think about the boat they were competing against or even something going on elsewhere in their lives, the distraction would cause the rower to “catch a crab”. Catching a crab resulted in the oar painfully slamming back into their chest and causing the boat to slow. Catching a crab did not get the boys closer to their goals. They had to keep their minds in the boat to be successful.

As educators, there are many things on which we can focus. Some of those things will take our mind out of the boat. When we focus on things outside of our boat, when we lose sight of what we can control, that loss of focus will cause us to get hit in the chest with an oar and to lose precious time. When we keep our mind in the boat we focus on what’s best for ALL of the children who are with us each day.


At Taylor Mill we focus on what we can do for ALL of our students. We focus and talk about the things we can control. It’s even part of our meeting norms, “Conversations will be focused on things we can control”. We keep our mind in the boat as we work with our teammates and our students.

Jordan’s Story – I am learning to navigate through my personal and professional life repeating this mantra, “Mind in Boat, Mind in Boat”. Of course, it looks different in both aspects of my life, but ultimately produces the same result. There are so many daily distractions that cause people to feel overwhelmed and there are several opportunities to compare and self-doubt; Mind In Boat is a reminder not to let the outside world consume you and to keep moving forward on your path to greatness! 

At Taylor Mill Elementary, this sticky core value means that we work together as a team to do what is best for our students, even if it is different than what everyone else is doing. It means that when we hit a bump in the road, we reflect, remind ourselves of our shared WHY and continue moving forward to reach our goals, big and small. Mind in Boat means recognizing the circumstances that we cannot change for our students, but focusing on how we can help them learn and grow each day. Mind In Boat, At Taylor Mill Elementary, means that we trust ourselves as individual leaders, trust our team, and trust the process. We KNOW where we are headed, and we cannot be stopped.

This is not an easy task by any means – keeping your Mind in the Boat requires constant reminders, extra grace, and unwavering drive to move forward. However, when we keep our Mind in the Boat, the result is simple, progress. Isn’t that what we’re all hoping for? 

Shout out to our Leader Tim Holmes, head custodian extraordinaire, for sharing this quote the day I wrote my story:

Melody’s Story – One of our PLC (Professional Learning Community) norms is “Conversations are focused on what we can control.” As we seek to learn and understand all we can about our students, we can not let ourselves get overwhelmed by what, even on the easiest of days, seems as a mountain we’ve been given to move. While there is awesomeness in that thought, knowing that we have a strong, important purpose inherent in our work, having the core belief “Mind in Boat” means not getting distracted by the multitude and magnitude of things we can not control. All of life’s unfair challenges our students face on a daily basis can not distract or excuse us from realizing the lifelong impact we have on our students. We must remain steadfast and in sync through our vision of inspiring passionate learners, creating a community of leaders, and challenging ourselves to exceed expectations.

Kim’s Story – Last school year, I worked frequently with a student who believed strongly that his troubles were the result of someone else. This student had a challenging time accepting his role in the situation. He was always looking elsewhere for the answer. When processing the student was asked questions like “How were you feeling at the time?” “How have you felt since?” “Who has been affected or hurt by what you have done?” Those were challenging questions that were often met with refusal to accept his role in the situation. One day closer to the end of the school year, the student appeared in my office one day and said, “I’m here because I was getting mad, and I knew if I stayed I would have done something that would hurt (the other student).” The student was starting to get his mind in the boat by understanding his actions impacted others and developing a strategy to handle challenging situations.


What does our core belief, Mind in Boat, mean to you? How would you add to this story We’d love to connect! Share your thoughts or reflections and tweet and tag us (@TME_tigers, @kim_laughlin, @MrsGreene_TME, @me1odystacy) or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.



2 thoughts on “Mind in Boat

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