Today we hung out with an Olympian.  No big deal.  Actually, we hung out with an Olympic gold medalist.  I have enough Olympians in my life to honestly say that an Olympian is an Olympian and they are all fabulous and inspirational in their own ways; however, the gold medal we all got to hold today was a very special treat! (I had never seen one in real life before).

An Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2008.  It's covered in gold and has a ring of white jade on the back.  Very cool!
An Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2008. It’s covered in gold and has a ring of white jade on the back. Very cool!

Adam Kreek was our guest of honour this afternoon.  Adam is a three time Olympic rower who currently resides in Victoria with his wife and children.  Adam and his mens 8 team competed in Athens (2004), won gold in Beijing (2008) and scored silver in London (2012).  Adam is also a motivational speaker and entrepreneur.  So, this guy has a pretty impressive resume and he took time out of his day to come speak to my grade 8s today – talk about feeling special!

The whole idea of getting Adam to come talk with my students originated back in November when my friend Jess and I saw him speak at Victoria’s TEDx event.  Throughout the day of the conference Jess, Adam and I were tweeting back and forth (oh, the excellent power of social media) and by the end of the day I had scheduled Adam to come speak to my class.  Fast forward a few months and today we engaged in an entertaining afternoon learning about what it takes to become an Olympian (persistence, grit and self-worth are just a few of the qualities).  Personally, because of my gymnastics past, I adored this part of the conversation and hung on to every single word.

Words one of Adam's coaches shared with him before he realized he wanted to be an Olympian.
Words one of Adam’s coaches shared with him before he realized he wanted to be an Olympian.

Eventually though Adam got real with us and took my students on a goal setting journey.  Our afternoon turned into a conversation about setting SMART goals and discovering the winning formula of doing what you love and being successful at it (passion+skill+market).  There also may have a been a few stories about how to go pee on a tiny row boat while out in the middle of the ocean without falling overboard (excellent reenacting skills put to good use).

Adam holding up his Olympic gold before passing it around for everyone to hold.
Adam introducing his Olympic gold before passing it around for everyone to hold.

The SMART acronym for goal setting follows these five “rules” – is your goal: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely. Adam took the time to discuss some of my students’ goals with them and even went through the SMART formula to help realign some particular goals (for example, maybe marrying Justin Bieber isn’t actually realistic…time to find a new goal? 🙂 )    We reviewed the SMART goals idea last week in class, but I think my students believe in it more now that Adam took the extra time to deconstruct some of their personal goals.  The teacher in me beamed with pride and joy for my students who dug deep and were brave enough to share their goals in front of their peers.  One of my students wants to be a carpenter when he’s older; I would have never known that if Adam hadn’t given him the opportunity to speak up and share his goal.  Now this student is aware that he needs to work on his knowledge and expertise in carpentry, all while seeking job site experience, while he can.  Another one of my students is working toward saving her hard earned money so she can go to her very first concert this summer (and tickets aren’t cheap!) Again, Adam was able to help this student realign her focus and tap in to what really needed to happen in order to earn the money and buy the tickets.  As fellow teachers, you might think these are easy enough lessons to guide a group of grade 8 students through, but I think the lessons become much more personal and reflective when a highly esteemed athlete is doing the teaching and sharing.

Adam and I, awkwardly leaning into the camera.
Adam and me, awkwardly leaning into the camera.

Today was an excellent, entertaining and inspiring day!  Many thanks to Adam for spending his afternoon talking with my students about their goals and sharing some silly and amazing stories, too.  My class thoroughly enjoyed their time out of the classroom learning about real life.  To learn more about Adam Kreek and his crazy adventures you can watch his TEDx talk from November 2013: