What Do You See When You Look at Your Job?

Sometimes I feel like I’m so far inside my job, I don’t even see it.  This is one way a blog makes itself useful.  I put pieces of my job in here, and later, I can take them out and look at them.

A few days ago, I came across one of my old posts, a quote from another blogger that resonated for me two years ago, and still does now.

The commitment to a personal vision is what ensures success and brings [the teacher] back into the classroom each day…. [The] key to personal efficacy, effectiveness, and longevity in the classroom has more to do with a teacher’s internal state of mind than any outside attribute. Efficacy is impossible when a teacher is distracted by personal issues, taking offense at student misbehavior, holding onto grudges against administration, and constantly judging parents for the way students are raised. These poisonous attitudes will slowly destroy a teacher’s vision…

(You will find the original post on The Cornerstone Blog; you will find my original link to it here.)

In 2009, when I posted this, I was struggling to piece together a vision of my role as a teacher.  That vision has come a long way.  Here’s what I see right now when I look at my job.

  • The goal of the study of English – the “great thing” at the center of it, as Parker Palmer would put it – is understanding. This includes a) understanding others, and b) making ourselves understood.
  • My role is to help students acquire both these skills: to understand others better and to express themselves so that others can understand them better.
  • I can help them with this through giving them opportunities to read well and write well.  These activities will allow them wide access to the thoughts of others, and to vocabulary and techniques they can use to make their thoughts clear and comprehensible.
  • I can also help them learn how to learn.  This is perhaps the most important goal, as, once we are “learners,” we can make use of any experience.

Does any of this make sense to you?  Do you have thoughts about these goals?  When you step back and look at yourself in your profession, whether you’re a teacher, a writer, a stay-at-home parent, a cashier, a student, a manager…what do you see?


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Image by Joel Dietle


6 thoughts on “What Do You See When You Look at Your Job?

  1. Your vision makes perfect sense! It is the ability to connect to students and help them realize and use the power of effective communication. You have expressed your perspective well. I wish more students had teachers like you.

    And Parker Palmer is a great one to read to help explore one’s path and vision. I especially like his little tome, An Active Life.


    1. Thanks Patti! “Effective communication” is a good way to sum it up, but these days I’m concentrating more on the other side of it – “effective reception,” maybe? My concern is that my students come to college with plenty of training in expressing their own thoughts and opinions, but not so much in the understanding of others’ perspectives. This is one thing reading can be good for.


  2. As a translator, I see my job as (1) communicating a message clearly in the other official language, and then (2) creating a thing of beauty where this is possible. I set my own standards and raise my own bar, and I hope my passion for my profession inspires my colleagues. I also fight a rear-guard battle against the insidious encroachments of bad writing…


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