Why Am I Here Teaching?
Getting back to Why. Rekindle that Why and Build your Classroom Community.
What is a Why? And why do I care? Wait a minute…where is my Why?
Yup. It’s lost somewhere. Did I even know I lost my Why? For close to 20 years I’ve been an educator in some capacity. Wow, time flies, I must be getting pretty darn good at what I’m doing that I don’t have to think about my Why.
I’m on autopilot every year. I have all of the routines down, I know all the administrators and principals, and I know all the rules. Even my classroom is set up the same way. Hmm…maybe my routines are making me stale and boring. So… Why did I become a teacher again?
My Why was like a crinkled up sticky note living in the bottomless pit of my purse. I bring it with me everywhere, every day. It’s always with me. But somehow that crinkled up old sticky note with no ‘sticky’ part left on it slowly inched its way to the deep, dark depths of my purse, suffocating under an endless bunch of random odds and ends called daily life.
A lonely crinkled Why in no-man’s land. Let’s face it. I don’t even know what is taking up space in my purse let alone where I can find my Why on that crinkled paper.
I didn’t actually know I lost my Why until I recently attended a conference entitled “Culturize” at a local university. I thought I had signed up for just another lecture on making my classroom better. A conference in which I’d feel lucky if I might be able to take back at least one tidbit or two for the next day to use in my class. A tidbit to add on a sticky note to shove in my purse…and we all know where that ends up. Boy was I wrong.
Enter Jimmy Casas, the keynote on Culturize. Amazing! It wasn’t like sitting at every other conference. This guy oozed passion for education and teachers. He oozed it because he lived it, he made admitted mistakes, and he strove (and continues to strive) for excellence. His conference was intoxicating, energetic, and contagious. His ‘lecture’ was so interactive that I lost track of time- impressive for a full day conference. He personalized it. He knew my name. He modeled the importance of knowing your Why every day. He. Modeled. It!
To my surprise, I was suddenly motivated to start digging around for that crinkled up sticky note I have been carrying around.
I lost my Why and didn’t even know it!!
I never really actually thought about my Why after a passionate interview to start my teaching career and I was going to change the face of education. I realized during his conference, it was within all the routines and rules that my Why and passion got lost. It wasn’t just the typical speaking lecture you hear at a conference hoping you will get something out of it, but rather a deep dive into self-introspection that drove me to revisit my Why…really revisit my passion.
Here was Jimmy Casas question that stopped me in my tracks: Why do you do what you do?
His definition of Culturize is Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes.
I would encourage you not to go as long as I did without thinking about your Why It’s still in there you know. Take it step by step!
Ask yourself Jimmy’s question… Why do you do what you do?
Actually reflect and answer it. On paper so you can visually see it. It brings it more meaning.
So what is my Why? My Why is creating a safe learning environment where kids can thrive. Any kid. All kids. For some kids, school is a pathway out of poverty or a miserable home life. Make learning personal for them. The more personal, the more attractive and engaging.
Try visiting schools in other countries. Plenty of companies provide teacher trips. It is eye-opening. Some schools in tough economies have a majority of kids cap at third grade because they are needed as farm hands at home, or as laborers to make sure there is food on the table. In some cases, kids have to walk an excess of five miles in all kinds of weather to go to school…and then that becomes too hard and they quit. It is just easier to quit.
What is your Why?
Step 3 Dig deeper.
If step 2 sounds generic, then take is a step further.
My Why is to stop perpetuating what already exists. Lend troubled kids an opportunity for a step up. Give mediocre performing kids a chance to find their passion and shine. Offer gifted kids opportunities to be the best they can be.
Show kids they can go from mediocre to great! Helping them find their passion to be the best they can be. Helping them Mine their Lights. I firmly believe education is a ticket to better opportunities.
Step 4: How to help students find what they are passionate about…their Why
During the day, provide personalized opportunities for kids to shine. Mine their Lights! Here are 5 Easy ways you can Mine their Light so that you can help them be engaged in learning. Be an advocate to promote themselves and be engaged in learning.
Step 5: Don’t forget to Cherish the children!
It is the reason we wake up each day. It is why we got into the profession to begin with!