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Prioritize and Execute

The author’s team of Navy SEALS had pushed far into the enemy's territory to “take the fight to them”. It was a method they deployed to disrupt the enemy's normal activities since the enemy thought they were safe in their location. During this particular mission, the SEAL team had chosen a building to occupy. The building had tactical advantages; higher than surrounding buildings and thick concrete walls. However, it only had one entrance and exit. This posed a security risk because the enemy could ambush them on the way out or set up an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) to go off as they exited. Obviously, either one would cause casualties. However, because of the noted advantages, they still chose this building to occupy. At the end of the day, when the fighting has ceased, they were ready to exit the building. However, they noticed an object near the exit which could be an IED. With no other options, the leader decided to knock a hole in an exterior wall on the second floor. As they left the building through the makeshift exit and onto a neighboring building’s roof, one of the team members fell onto the pavement below. At this point, the team was severely exposed, had a member down, and the new exit they were moving toward had a padlocked gate. The leader had to prioritize and execute. With the help of his team leaders, he set security, then breached the gate, and finally got a corpsman to the injured soldier. As they finally left the building, they identified the object near the original exit as an IED and intentionally triggered it. Fortunately, the soldier who fell through the roof was not seriously injured.


I started my teaching career at York High. It is the 9-12 building for the York City School District. The York City School District is an urban district with poverty rates of its students over 95%. At that time, the district had 5,000 students with over 1,000 attending high school. In my first year, I did not have my own classroom, I traveled and used the classrooms of other teachers during their prep periods. I taught science in the morning and math in the afternoon. Not having a classroom caused organizational issues. Specifically, the beginning of class did not go well. As I traveled to my next room, some students were already in it. I would still be organizing my materials as the bell would ring. It could be a few minutes before I started to teach. That’s an eternity for students to start mischief. One day, during the beginning of a science class, I felt every single student was acting out. I didn’t know who to call on or how to get control. I eventually did and survived the day. However, I sought out a veteran teacher and asked them what they would do. Their answer was to write the word “Example” on the chalkboard and then send one offending student to the office. More often than not, the student being punished would complain that they were getting singled out. At that time, I would go back to the word on the chalkboard and relate the meaning to the student being sent out of class. If the mischief continued, I would pick another student to be the next example. As odd as this sounded to me as a new teacher, it worked. As soon as I would write the word example on the board, the class would get itself in order. It was a matter of prioritizing the need for order in the classroom and then executing the plan. To quote the author, “Relax, look around, make a call.”


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Thanks for reading!

Erik Bentzel

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© 2019 by Erik Bentzel. 

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