Random Thoughts

Reaching Their Potential

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On Monday the MLB (Baseball) draft started and one of the Mariner Bloggers that I follow Jeff Sullivan had this to say about the draft:

This afternoon or evening, the names of several future disappointments will be announced. Zero or one or two or three of the players will develop fully. Many more will develop partially, and the rest will develop not at all. It sounds so grim and makes it all seem like a complete waste of time, but the math isn’t really different in other professional fields. Most of us are destined to disappoint. High baseball draft picks just get more publicity than most of us do.

That sounds down right depressing but it is so accurate and I think you could apply it to hiring anyone for any company, organization or school. You hire on potential, hopes and dreams. Much like companies baseball teams take risks on young potential players hoping they will work out. Some do, others don’t, while still some who are drafted at the very end of the day make the biggest impact for a team or company. 

I think about education and students. We don’t get to hand pick our students, we’re given a class list in August/September and we’re told to develop them and help them reach their full potential. We’re not allowed half way through the season to say “Look kid you’re not cutting it here, we’re going to send you back down for more work in the minors.” We’re told to help the student reach their full potential no matter what. 

I think of coaches who know they don’t have the best team, but they do the best with what they have. Helping everyone develop, staying positive, and providing support where needed. They dream of days when they’ll have that ultimate state winning team. But until then they battle through the hard years doing what they can to develop players. 

Baseball General Managers get paid a lot of money to pick potential players……and fail most of the time. 

Educators get paid much less are given a bunch of players and are successful most of the time. 


Not sure if any of this makes sense…but that paragraph has been running through my head since I read it a couple days ago and I needed to write some of these random thoughts down.

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. If only teachers got the same money as managers! LOL. The reality is that, not only do we work with any child to help them reach their potential, we are expected to have 100% of our students be successful…100%. Not one or two, but all. And for each child who isn’t successful, we are said to have failed. And maybe we did. But maybe the child who fails isn’t able to be successful in this one size fits all education we are creating. And maybe poverty and parent apathy and health issues and family issues are too much to overcome in one year. I guess, no matter what anyone says, I find it gratifying to take those lost souls and make a safe, comfortable place for them..at least for a year. They might not be successful with the curriculum but…

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Totally agree “reaching their full potential” means something different for every child. Heck…I had a 4th grader once who’s goal was to not drop out before 6th grade. He was the first in his family to graduate from elementary school. That was great growth for that student and for his family. But not many people would see it that way…and state tests….LOL….how about not end up in juvenile hall for a month straight…that’s what we celebrated.

  2. One of my great frustrations arrises when a student – who has worked so hard and with whom I have spent hours in support and encouragement – is able to significantly raise his or her state assessment scores but still not reach benchmark. My frustration isn’t that the student didn’t hit benchmark…it’s that the system sees that student as unsuccessful. It so brutally invalidates the personal dedication and achievement that the student has realized and penalizes me for not being a “successful” coach.
    Very thought-provoking post, Jeff.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks David. Agree I think about this baseball analogy where you get drafted and you work your way through the system, but if you never make the Majors you’re seen as…what….wasted time? There are many a player who reach their full potential in A, AA, or AAA ball and never make the majors. It doesn’t mean they failed…they reached their full potential and that should be good enough. You think of all the kids that play baseball and how many of them actually reach the Majors.

      I was offered a baseball scholarship to play at a community college, I played as far as my skill and potential could take me…which was community college baseball. I thank all my coaches through the years for helping me reach my full potential no matter what the ceiling was. I’ve worked at 5 different schools in 13 years and each time I go recruiting administrators look at my potential for growth, where I fit on the team and if I’m a fit for the organization. I wonder if I have ever turned out the way they thought I would. Did I develop as an educator the way they thought? Did I make the growth they thought I would make, or work within the organization the way they thought I would?

      I don’t know…it’s an interesting statement and how it applies/does not apply to education….I think is interesting.

      • I recently had the opportunity to speak with a principal in another school in my district. She was a former teacher and reminded me of a conversation we had when she was first hired as a teacher about 12 years ago. Apparently, I told her my goal was to leave teaching and be a consultant. Guess I never met my potential. LOL. I hate to think how differently my life would be, how many children I would have missed, how many collaborations and connections I would have missed if I had really reached that goal.

  3. I think it makex perfect sense, nice job. I always enjoy your thoughts, thanks for sharing.

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