Unlock Your Superpower

I love superheroes.  When I was a kid, The Superfriends was my favorite cartoon. As I got older, I devoured X-Men comic books.  Even today, I think it is a great movie-going experience to see a superhero movie in 3-D and in IMAX.


For me, there is something incredible about the superhero.  Having a unique or special power that sets you apart from everyone else.  Whether it be the ability to fly, read people’s minds, or shoot laser beams out of your eyes, superheroes had a power that ordinary human beings did not possess.


In many cases, superheroes did not always realize they were superheroes.  Usually, there was some extraordinary event that caused the superpower to emerge.  For Spiderman, it was being bit by that radioactive spider…Captain America volunteers for an experimental super-soldier program after being told he was too weak for military service…even Batman had to experience the tragic death of his parents that set him on his resolve to battle evil.


Over the past year, I have had the privilege of being a part of one of the greatest professional development opportunities around…Admin CUE Rockstar (if you have never been…seriously, you need to go!)  Created by Jon Corippo, Admin CUE Rockstar centers around Joseph Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey.  If you are not familiar with it, check out this video…


The thing I love about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is that it focuses not so much on the powers of the heroes but more on their humanity.  Like Harry Potter, Catniss Everdeen, Frodo, or any of the comic-book superheroes, many of us experience the same struggles, challenges, and unwillingness to harness or use powers.  Some are trying to dismiss or minimize that call to action and finding it harder and harder to ignore.  One of the key tenets of Admin CUE Rockstar camps is that we are all on some part of our own hero’s journey.  Like the heroes in literature, we as leaders have our own hero’s journey that we are being called to take.  For some, we are at the beginning and receiving that call to action…others may be at the bottom in despair or crisis…while still others have already experienced that rebirth and are getting ready for their next big adventure!


For the last few years, I have seen this meme be circulated around the internet, making its way onto t-shirts, coffee mugs, and posters…

Photo courtesy of etsy.com
Photo courtesy of etsy.com

I like this image because I do believe that the best educators are superheroes who have extraordinary abilities and powers that do more good for our kids than just about anybody else…but I also believe that there is more to it than just claiming to teach.  Just being in front of a classroom does not a teacher make.  Like Joseph Campbell mentions, each hero is continuously on the cycle of adventure…as one finishes, another will eventually come to begin.  Great educators realize that teaching is also learning.  That is, to “teach” is to be on an ever-present journey of learning and growth, discovering new superpowers that one did not even realize he or she had!


As we prepare for or embark on a new school year, what is your unique superpower as a teacher or educator?  How do you develop it?  How did you discover it?  Have you discovered it?   One thing to note is while we are all on our own personal hero’s journey, like the comic-book superheroes or heroes in literature (Harry Potter, Catniss Everdeen, Frodo), we all have different types of powers…some powers we have honed and crafted through experience and previous journeys…others have yet to be discovered!


How can we as leaders help others find their superpowers?  I think that one of the first steps is to create PD opportunities for teachers to explore.  Sometimes, we need to be that mentor to help them see their strengths as well as their areas for growth…we need to be their Dumbledore, their Hamitch, their Gandalf.  Each of these people were key in helping the hero play on their strengths while at the same time helping them shore up their weaknesses.  Interestingly though, each of these mentors were on their own hero’s journey looking to improve themselves as well.  We can’t expect people to take up their own call to action when we refuse to take it on ourselves!


Whether at the beginning of the cycle or reaching the end, we are all somewhere on our own hero’s journey.   Accept the journey and call to action…unlock your superpower…put yourself in situations where it can come out and be harnessed…embrace social media and develop a professional learning network so you can connect with other innovative and inspirational educators who can help you through your own hero’s journey.


Because the ultimate goal is not to just make us better educators.  By accepting the call to action and embracing that journey, we can do what we have been charged with…helping kids discover their own superpowers.

Dr. Todd Schmidt is an elementary lead learner in Corona del Mar, CA. Additionally, he is a dad of two girls and a proud husband.