So, I’ve been thinking about how to be the best person and teacher. I’ve been thinking about what I want for myself and my students and who to turn to for inspiration. So far, I’ve got three stories/tidbits that are going to serve as my guideposts for the year:
- “Excellence is transformative.” I read Ron Berger’s book, Ethic of Excellence, several summers ago at this point. The sentence is deceptively simple in my opinion. This is the experience I want for each of my students, hands down, no debating it. I want each of them to be transformed by the experience of producing something excellent–something that is recognized by their peers as excellent and for which they are justifiably proud. This is a tough one because I can’t pass these experiences out for free or for any amount of money. But, just the idea of it makes me break into a grin ear to ear and brings tears to my eyes (ok, that’s not hard to do, but still). What I can do is work to give each student the skills to be his or her best and the support and encourage that quest.
- “When he spoke with you, he saw the light in you. And then, he showed you that light in you and you could see it too.” A “weighty Friend” (which in Quaker-speak means respected Quaker in the community) said this about someone I do not know. Quakers believe there is inner light, or that of God, in everyone. And yet, who doesn’t have trouble seeing that light in him or herself? What a great gift to be able to see that in others and reflect it back to them? Sign me up for that super-power. This is of course what I must to do for my students–see their strengths and show those strengths to them.
- My other guidepost is actually two people, neither do I know well. I have no idea what either is like at home, with family, or in spare time. What I do know is how much care he takes with all those in need at the Quaker meeting we both attend. I am sure he is not perfect, but I continue to be impressed with how much he extends himself toward others. I could and should learn from his example. She is a teacher who I know on Twitter. She is unfailingly positive and encouraging of others. She is not snarky or negative, always extending herself to others. I am always impressed with how happy, enthusiastic, and positive her tweets are. I have room for improvement here.
Now, I know that probably seemed kind of heavy. But, I am really not a humorless person; I promise. (Have you seen the purple hair in my picture?) My classroom is a lively place. We laugh a lot. And, with the help of my guideposts, we can be a fun place, and I can be my best self too.