Good Mojo

Chandler and I making a "Classroom Citizenship" poster. This activity sparked discussion over our values for the Rhetoric class we're co-teaching and contributed to the good mojo of our classroom.
Chandler and I created a “Classroom Citizenship” poster togther. This activity sparked discussion over our values for the rhetoric class we’re co-teaching and helped to set clear expectations for our students, contributing to the overall good mojo of our classroom.

It’s all in the mojo.

The most effective teams all have some “x factor,” some “secret sauce” in common: good mojo. I define “good mojo” as an organization’s resilience (the ability to respond constructively to unforeseen circumstances) coupled with the capacity to build small gains into a larger positive feedback loop.

Good mojo results from intentionality. It flows from a strong, growth-oriented team/company/organization culture. Organizations that communicate clear objectives, provide robust support and ongoing training, foster feedback-seeking interpersonal relationships, and carve out time to reflect all generate good mojo.

This is all very abstract, so I’m going to use today’s events at the Sunflower County Freedom Project as a parable of good mojo.

When I walked into my classroom this morning, I had only slept for 9 of the preceding 48 hours. Even with the first-week adrenaline and early-morning caffeine priming my instructional pump, I felt tired. My 8th grade students trudged into the classroom and moved lethargically as they started their first task. I thought to myself, “I’m going to act energetic for the first five minutes and see how it goes.” That thought was a variation on an old trick my father once taught me. To conquer stage fright, just pretend for the first ten seconds of your performance that you aren’t totally terrified or tired or unprepared. After those first ten seconds, you’ve engaged your audience and the nerves begin to calm.

In those first five minutes, I strove to follow the advice of more experienced teachers: create a sense of urgency. We are at our most productive when there is a sense of a tangible, achievable goal with a realistic but challenging time limit. Although we did have some lagging moments during the class, I could definitely feel the room shift to focus and efficiency when we did hit maximum urgency.

Wouldn’t it be great if every sleep-inducing, time-wasting meeting you attend were infused with urgency? Managers and CEOs could take a leaf out of the teacher’s book here.

Other good mojo moments today:

  • Receiving feedback from supervisors
  • Giving feedback to students
  • Reflecting on how students are doing (identifying who needs more support and who needs more rigor)
  • Sharing “glows” and “grows” (positive and constructive self-feedback)
  • Being surprised with our favorite snacks during the weekly meeting

Good mojo is palpable. You ought to be able to feel it at the end of a long day, even if that day’s beginning was subpar at best.



One thought on “Good Mojo

  1. Your father is right. The first 10 minutes of a class or presentation is crucial. If the teacher/presenter exudes boredom and fatigue, the audience picks up on it. Fake it ’til you make it….be the most amazing person that you are for the first 10 minutes. And yes, they (mostly) will be putty in your hands. Good for you, Matthew, for listening and remembering the wise words of your father. Keep that mojo going! xo Sally B

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