After eleven years of teaching, it is difficult to keep the years straight, but I do believe one of my three principals asked the teachers to write vision or mission statements at one point in time. When we adopted Personal Learning Communities (PLCs) a few years ago, there was again discussion about this. On a personal level, however, I have never written one, partially because I have always felt it needed to be something incredibly formal.
But I do have a vision, and it is a simple one:
Whether they are three or eighteen, our students are kids. They rely on us for their learning and guidance, whether they are aware they want it or not. How can we possibly give up on these people who have abusive parents, are homeless, cannot read, have no food to eat at home, have been abandoned, and/or are dealing with more severe issues than I even want to think about?
We had a few situations at school this year that made this echo in my head repeatedly. I will admit, I have not always kept this at the forefront of my teaching. I am human and get frustrated and complain just like anyone else. Kids do that. Like I tell my own children, annoying us is in the Being a Kid Rulebook. But these particular situations made me step back and take a good hard look at those students to whom I may have done a disservice .
I teach eighth grade. I do not want to look at a student and say, "You know, at fourteen, you are completely a lost cause. There is no hope for you. You may live for another seventy years, but by now, I have already determined that you will never be better than what you are right now." Pardon my language, but I think the best way to put this is, Hell no! I do not want to be that teacher.
We teach kids.
- Dig deep, even when it hurts.
- Build relationships, especially with the kids who have been labeled the worst.
- Help them discover their passions. You will have to weed past future dreams of playing professional sports, and you may need a bit of fertilizer to make other dreams grow, but they are in there.
- Teach learning strategies, not just content. That part comes and goes by the year. The strategies will last a lifetime.
So what is your vision?