- Staying Within Law: Special Education Teachers and IDEA - September 1, 2020
- Teaching With Minecraft EDU - April 3, 2019
- Self-Care Is Priority One for This Teacher - February 13, 2019
- Preparing Students For Teacher Absences - February 12, 2019
- Respect in the Classroom: Earned, Not Expected - February 11, 2019
- Dissing the Family Crazies: A Christmas Story - January 6, 2019
- Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children - November 23, 2018
- We Must Love Them - November 5, 2018
- Take One For the Team: The Need for Self-Care - August 19, 2018
- The New Teacher Smell - August 19, 2018
Success was always important when I was growing up. I’m an only child, so the pressure was palpable from my parents. They were always pushing me to do better, wanting me to ‘amount’ to something worthwhile.
Unfortunately their worthwhile careers were those of a doctor, attorney or highly paid businessperson. Not that of a teacher.
Going through school I did my best at everything I attempted. I was over-involved in extra-curricular activities, made straight A’s and ended up graduating as a Valedictorian of my class.
When I went off to college, I tried to go the route I knew my parents wanted me to go, seeking a ‘worthwhile’ degree. But deep down, I always knew that I loved kids and wanted to teach. In my heart, success was not equivalent to a large paycheck.
I spent many of my younger years feeling like I had let them down, knowing that ‘teacher’ was never on their list of successful career fields. Recently I got into a discussion with a friend of what success really is.
Success is usually defined as “the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted, the gaining of fame or prosperity or, the extent of such gain.”
Thinking through those definitions, I think there is more to it than that. I think success lies in the ability to do three things: make a difference in the lives of others, love what you do and continue to strive to make yourself better at whatever it is that you love doing. The whole idea of success equaling a high amount of pay needs to be shoved to the wayside.
My students are young. They are still able to dream big without the world knocking them down. This is one of many things I love about teaching the ages I teach. They have the idea that nothing can stop them, they can be anything their heart dreams and the sky is the limit. And I encourage that. That’s the way it should be. But shouldn’t it continue to be that way on into college?
How many students would we be able to ‘save’ if we were able to teach them to approach their future with the eyes of a second grader? How many students would give college a shot, instead of feeling like they ‘weren’t university material’ if we continued to teach them that there were no limits to what they could dream? How many students would break away from the harmful cycles of addiction or abuse if we held fast to the idea that they could be anything THEY wanted to be and we were able to help them attain it?
The system has failed our kids in preparing for the excitement of their future. The system has taken success away from our students before they even have a chance to define it for themselves. The system has laid out a self-fulfilling prophecy that says success is directly proportional to test scores. The system has taken teaching out of the hands of teachers and put it in the hands of non-educators and politicians. The system has taken success away from our students and diminished them to a number.
It’s time that we return the excitement of success to our students. It’s time that we define success for ourselves.