“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it” – Simon Sinek
Why do I do what I do?
First, what do I do…?
I am a teacher, and mother, and writer and it’s a long list, but within that there must be a something that defines me a bit.
What is it that those who cheer me and those that are frustrated with me would both say?
Perhaps it is that – I challenge… good or bad – I’ll admit and own it – I challenge…
In my defense, I challenge myself as well. I’m willing to just try something. I experiment. I get in over my head and have to find my way out. I take on too much and I am always on a journey – never feeling like I’ve arrived.
Normally, it’s for want of company or at least understanding that I put out the challenge. “Have you read…?” “What if we looked at it another way…” “I used to think that too, but now I think…”
The words are out before I have time to swallow them back.
Why do I do that?
Wouldn’t it be easier to go along with the crowd? Deflect the blame… make excused… talk about what’s wrong with kids these days…
I’ve been thinking about it and I can point to a DuFour conference and a Wormeli book, or two, that gave me a push. That graduate program in Instructional Leadership didn’t help. Let’s not even talk about the light bulb moment that comes with my son’s dyslexia…
The “why” does come from all of the above experiences, but if we are going to be totally honest it comes from being that kids in the classroom that never – ever – ever — passed a spelling test. I read every book I could get my hands on, I wrote essays for the fun of it, I was a hungry learner, but I had a glitch that I didn’t understand.
A learning style?
A reason for people to laugh.
It was something that didn’t make bubble test easy. It stood in the way of being able to retrieve multiplication facts on a timed test. Most embarrassing – It made me a very frustrated student in a one and done, 20 words a week – we are moving on and you failed school system.
I hated that,
and now, I recognize the precarious a situation I was in. In some ways I hated school, I didn’t trust right away, and I could recognize a “got cha” grader from a mile away.
I didn’t know about learning styles or brain development back then. All I knew what that I was really smart, but not every teacher was interested in finding that out. If I challenged them as a student – they were likely to respond negatively. I can only imagine how kids who provide much more significant challenges feel every time they walk into a classroom. I am not willing to make them feel the way I did just because I am now in the position to do so.
I challenge. I do. I need to learn to be gentle. To respond from empathy. To honor people were they are. Yes, I’ll own that too. I’m working on it.
But if it helps to know why, if it inspires buy in, if it explains who I am… than I’ll go back to that raw feeling of failure and frustration that came every Friday afternoon when the teacher said, “take out a piece of loose leaf paper and number it from one to twenty.”
I don’t want to be the teacher that puts a sense of “no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I will never be successful at this” in the minds of my students.
“Ouch.” I know.
I feel like I can be someone different. Someone who inspires and supports. Someone who keeps hope alive and reminds that “we are just not there yet” – we teachers, we students, we community of learners…”
It’s my belief that we will to get there.
That answers… why I do it?