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…
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