What is your purpose?
What is the reason you became a teacher?
Do you tell your students why you teach or just what you teach?
My instructor for the Gifted Certification program I am in asked us this question the other day. Right away I knew this was going to be like a therapy session. Some of the reasons mentioned were a result of great experiences as a child in school while others' were the direct opposite. Strange isn't it? We so often think that teachers are teachers because they loved all of THEIR teachers.
So, why do we need to tell the students our purpose....our "why"? We were shown a few video clips that related more to the business world, but it relates even to education. The point of those videos were that people don't buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it. I've never thought about that really. Wow! In that moment, I knew that students are the same as consumers in the world. "come in to our classrooms and all they hear is the "what". Blah....blah...blah...that's what they hear. Maybe that's why so many kids are disconnected....uninterested....unmotivated. They simply haven't "bought" into what we are doing. Who's fault is that? I'm guilty of doing just that. So, this year my goal is to start with the "Why" I do what I do. If I can get them to believe and want what I believe, then they will invest. Here is a link to the Ted Talk by Simon Sinek that talks about this.
I think every teacher needs to revisit the "Why" behind what they do. The beginning of the year is perfect. So....are you wondering about my "Why"? It begins with Kindergarten. I had a very negative experience (or at least my mom did). I must have struggled at that time....I don't remember. However I do remember my mom going to a parent/teacher conference and the result of that STUCK with me all through my educational years. I can't quite remember how I learned about the conversation, but my mom was told this. Now keep in mind....this quote is what I roughly remember.
"You're child is struggling and is behind. It's okay....don't worry. Most children that live where you live have the same problems. You're child will probably always be below average so don't expect too much because of where you live. It's okay."
We lived in a trailer park, had one car, and my mom didn't work. My family sacrificed so my dad could work full time and finish his college degree. She didn't know any of this. My mom just cried. How and why would a teacher say that? From that point, I felt like no teacher believed in me really. Why would they? I went through school always feeling like I wasn't smart enough. I was embarrassed to get in front of others, and definitely didn't want to read aloud due to a speech difficulty. Even in middle school I thought about those comments. High school came and it was the same. "I can't do this...I'm not smart enough....I'll never be as good as everyone else." My parents never knew I felt this way...never. Everything changed my senior year of school......
My literature teacher in 12th grade gave me an assignment to recite a poem in front of the class. Total fear came over me! I thought....okay, just say it quickly and sit down and get it over with. So, that's what I did. As soon as I was finished she said, "Hmmm....I'd like you to do that again, but think about it and say it with your heart." Great....again? So I did it again. She again said the same thing but told me that she wanted me to do it again the next day. Long story short....I came back and did it again...no caring what others thought of me. She wrapped her arms around me and said, "That's it! That's who you are. I knew you could do it. I wouldn't let you fail." She BELIEVED in me. It was the first moment I felt that from a teacher.
This is WHY I do what I do....My purpose is to help kids to believe in themselves, to believe they can overcome their biggest fear, to believe that they matter, to believe that no matter if they have academic challenges they can achieve what everyone else is doing.
So, I challenge you to think about this. What is your WHY? Start with that as you welcome your students this year. :)
Here are some more videos that some of my cohort classmates shared that contributes to their WHY. Enjoy. There are quite a few.
This last one will simply inspire you!
I hope you all have a wonderful school year! Don't forget your WHY! :)