"Guys, I'm tired."
You have no doubt heard this if you are a teacher or a friend of a teacher. And today, I want to speak to my non-teacher friends. See, your teacher friends are anxiously awaiting a two week (about) break from school. And before you are tempted to be jealous of this "extended" break, let me explain why I- and many of my teacher friends- are tired.
This time of year, our days often begin before the sun starts its workday. We are the school to watch the sunrise. And often, we are there to see it set. That is a normal workday. But another part of our workday is this- we are "on" for all of that time.
Imagine arriving early to work to get ahead, and immediately a client walks in needing help. You spend a half hour helping them, and realize the rest of your clients have arrived for normal business hours. You work straight through until lunch, where you get a half hour- but some of your clients often want to stick around to eat in your office. It's back to work where you then deal with clients for another couple hours before you get your break- in which you have to prepare for the next day. After the workday ends at 4, more clients arrive to get some help. You would look forward to the weekend, but you have to take a dozen or so clients to a business meeting out of town, and will arrive at work around 5 am and not return until 10 or 11 that NIGHT.
I want you to understand that this is not a complaint- this is an effort for teachers like myself to help you understand the hard part of our job. See, so far, you just see the hours. But what occurs in those hours? A whole other level.
Imagine your clients are people you really care about- not in a "the customer is always right" kind of way, but in a "these are my kids and I want them to not only survive, but to THRIVE" kind of way. You put up with early morning clients because you know they need it to thrive- but all too often they need it to survive. They are there early because they cannot get that help anywhere else. My friend and classroom neighbor Casey Akin is one of those teachers. She is here when I get here and here after I leave most days, teaching students Chemistry. Now, I never really got or enjoyed chemistry, but Akin's students love her. And what's more, they often end up loving chemistry. She calls them 'nerds" and they smile- a genuine smile of recognition of true care and concern in that word. They are disappointed when she has to- heaven forbid- go home when the school day ends because she too has a life beyond our walls. And though she very much needs that time for herself, I see the hurt she feels because she does not want to let her "nerds" down.
See, we also have to teach our clients social skills. Teenagers have a brain that closely resembles the decision making of that of a psychopath. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030131905.htm)
We spend a good portion of our time teaching students how to interact appropriately with each other and with adults. In customer service, "the customer is always right" so you do not correct bad behavior. Correcting it is often a part of our job. One that MOST of us do not relish. We too get tired of rehashing rules, dress coding, saying "that's not appropriate," and settling disputes among our clients. My wife Kristin is a Special Education teacher and so she gets an extra dose of this. She has to navigate diagnoses, paperwork, and students who- more than their peers- need guidance on making basic, good choices. Plus, she often has to see students struggle with the unthinkable to most of us, and still press on with hope and high expectations. And she is great at it. But she also has two kids of her own- so her work and homelife overlap. Often. But she is great at that, too.
We also have our own kids, so when we do finally get home, we often have to help our kids with their homework. Only this time- we are not dealing with material we teach, so we have to learn this as well. Remember that class you struggled with in school? Now you have to help your own kid understand it after you spent all day getting your clients to understand your content. Good luck.
A lot of us take on extra projects at work, too. I'm leading a group right now that gives up their extra and "free" time to teach some students about leadership. Eric Zylman, Christie Brod, Javan Cashaw, Emily Harding, Jill Butler, Bunny Muncie, Deidre Merseal, and Amy Powell are classroom teachers that give up a half day a month to take 5th-8th graders to leadership training. They are also working extra time with these students to develop campus projects like outdoor seating spaces, walkways for students, and even community gardens. And they get no extra pay. Marina Rodriquez is another one of these Innovators (as I call them), but she is an overseer like me. She too spends extra time with students helping them learn to blog and reflect. She has students that do not know how to read or write well come to love writing. Because she loves it and loves them. And they can see that.
So, by now you probably are wondering why we do not just take a day off every now and then? Well, when most people take a day off, their project or work is exactly where they left it. Every day for teachers is moving forward, so we have to prepare lessons even when we are not there. Oh, and remember that social skills piece from earlier? Yeah, when we are out, we usually have to come back and address those things the next day. So, we play sick and injured. A lot.
You remember a teacher that inspired you? They were probably pretty relatable or had a lot of energy. My friend Jeremy Dockan is like that. He is always coming up to me with wild eyes and a new experiment that often involves explosions. He has such energy that students are drawn to him and his love for chemistry. (To be fair, the wild eyes and high energy may have something to do with me bringing him coffee every morning.) But teachers with energy also need to find a way to recharge those batteries (hence, the coffee). And that takes time.
I guess you could ask why we do this. If we are exhausted and stretched thin- and honestly often unappreciated by our clients, their parents and even our peers- why keep doing it?
It comes down to what the meaning of the holiday at the center of our upcoming break is- hope. Every day we wake up with hope that we will inspire someone. Hope that our students will make good choices that lead them to lifelong success. Hope that we educate a generation that will leave the world better than we found it.
We hope that we make a difference. For each and every student.
So when a teacher says, "Guys, I'm tired," know that it means they have cared greatly for your child and hold high hopes for their future.
For the last three years my sociology classes have designed classrooms during our Education in Society unit. In the beginning, I set no limits and amazing (impractical) rooms were designed. Now there is a theoretical $1000 limit and the ideas are much more practical.
This year, about a third of my groups built their classroom in a shoebox, and I realized the power of this idea for student voice in all classes. What if you could give your students a shoebox and have them build YOUR classroom?
For a bonus communication lesson, have them present it as a proposal to the class and teachers AND Admins!
Listen to their ideas- with your budget- and see where they can take you!
I learned to play checkers at my grandparents house before I started school, and I learned chess in high school.
Just the other day, while waiting for seat at Cracker Barrel, I played my twelve year old in her first game of checkers. It was a rather one sided victory, and it was a simple strategy- surround and conquer.
A day or so later, a friend was talking about challenging his niece to a game of chess and described some of the complex strategies and diverse moves that he used to beat her.
As these two classic games and the memories I have of them rattled in my head, I began to see comparisons to how we approach our campus and classroom culture. I tend to see educators either play chess or play checkers with issues like discipline and development, and I also tend to see one approach being more impactful to student learning and to staff development.
React or Prepare
I think the easiest difference in approach to see is the react (checkers) vs prepare (chess) model. In playing with my daughter, I noticed we both simply reacted to what happened. There was a minimal amount of planning- simply a "they did this, so I do this" style of play. In chess, one needs to think multiple moves ahead. Traps can be set. Not that checkers cannot be played this way, but it is more common to see the reaction style.
In school culture, we either react to a situation or we prepare for many. We often think that discipline must be a reaction based response, but in truth- if we have not already formulated a potential response to a situation, we can make significant mistakes. Most of the time when I lose my cool or say something I regret to a student, it is based on a reactionary mindset- I have not prepared and strategized a response. Reactionary discipline is all too often emotional in a bad way. You can also practice preparedness by teaching expectations. My current campus has attempted to do this with our Cougar Qualities- teaching students what good character looks like.
But it is not all discipline- we can react to or prepare for new developments. If you have a lot of leaders on campus, are you reacting to their requests to serve, or preparing opportunities for them to step up? When there are curriculum changes, do you wait until the last minute to implement or brainstorm as far in advance as you can?
There will always be reaction responses- even in chess. But the more we can minimize those in the moment decisions, the better prepared we are when they cannot be avoided.
Different Roles or the Same Role
One of the more complex elements of chess is learning that each piece behaves differently. Much like your classroom. (OK, that analogy literally writes itself.) For some, this is a reason to stick to the simple, every piece does the same thing game of checkers. But does it lead to real stimulation and growth?
We have long heard that not every student is the same. Each has unique strengths, weaknesses, interests, abilities and quirks. Yet too often, we treat these varies chess pieces like common checker discs. We force our knights to move forward, not in the L pattern they succeed in. A rook can cover the width or length of the board, yet we make it move a space at a time. If we adopt a chess mindset of the classroom, we can allow our students to find and pursue their passions and strengths, instead of standardizing their learning to fit a simple mold.
But the diversity is broader than that. If you are a campus leader, do you treat all your teachers the same? Sure, there must be equity, but if you treat a staff member capable of moving multiple spaces at once the same way you do a single space mover- is that benefiting them? Is it benefiting your campus? You have teachers with unique gifts- find ways to incorporate them in your leadership of the campus.
Another comparison worth noting here is that checkers campus leaders often use the phrase "there are not titles here." They mean to say we all work together and no one is more important than anyone else. But in practice- try to do something a department head or admin would do and see what happens. See, there are no titles on checkers pieces, but there are kings. And kings have more authority and exercise that authority when a regular checkers disc makes a move. But a chess minded campus leader is not afraid to admit that some people have responsibilities and obligations that carry more or different weight. And if someone wants to take that on, they will strategically find a place for them.
Proficient or Prestige
You ever noticed that there are Chess Grandmasters, but no Checkers Grandmasters? Both games involve levels of difficulty and strategy, yet chess is seen by most as the superior intellectual game.
If you are playing campus checkers, you can still have an great campus culture. You can be- to use a term co-opted for teacher evaluations- proficient. But if you want your campus to be something truly special- something that other campuses and other districts look to for inspiration (think Ron Clark Academy)- you have to play campus chess.
Be innovative, not isolated. Be relational, not just rigorous. Be strategic, not just satisfactory.
LEADS is a College Station ISD program that takes a small group of students from the 5th to the 8th grade (currently) and pulls them out from school once a month to receive leadership training in communication, people skills, grant writing, project development and more. These Ambassadors go back to their LEADS Teams on campus to create a campus project with the intent to positively affect the campus culture.
It was day two of meeting with our Ambassadors.
The nerves were a little less this time, but the concern did linger that the student's exuberance from the first meeting may have faded.
No need to worry.
The students immediately fell into engagement and interaction across campus lines. Our first activity was a team building exercise where students had to get their entire team across the room by walking on two 2x4s. It challenged them to exercise patience, persistence, balance, and communication. One student shared that balance was important because you needed to make sure you did not spread yourself too thin, and another mentioned the importance of balance in interactions with others. The importance of communication in the exercise really set the tone for the day.
Jill Butler and Bunnie Muncie of Wellborn Middle challenged our students to communicate clearly and effectively when speaking with administrators, and provided video examples of the etiquette and expectations of these meetings.
Ambassadors then were divided into four groups with one person from each campus. They had ten minutes to prepare a proposal to the "principals" (Our LEADS teacher Innovators). The issue to address- how to help students who were homeless. We wanted them to see it is a big problem- but a small thing to help can go a long way. The "Principals" questioned and proposed problems to their plan that they then went back and brainstormed, then followed up with the " principals."
We are in half days now, which means the time flies by fast- but each day is a joy to be a part of. And since it is a student leadership program- what better way to close this out than to share what some of our Ambassadors think about the program?
What will you see today?
As you walk your halls, stand before your classes, greet at the door, navigate the cafeteria, coach, teach, correct and encourage- what will you encounter?
A student who is always late.
A student who is sick a lot.
A student who gets all A's and very little sleep.
A student who cannot seem to stay in dress code.
A student with a scholarship.
A student who cannot afford a meal.
A rebel. A conformist. A wallflower.
A teacher who is struggling.
A teacher who is thriving.
Someone "walking on water."
Someone trying to keep their head above water.
Someone in over their head.
What do you see in these situations? You may envision specific people. You WILL form opinions based on your perceptions- that you cannot control. Whether you embrace your perceptions or not...that you can control. Perception is reality- how you see the world is how it is real to you.
Do you see...
A discipline problem...or an opportunity?
A lost cause...or a need for someone to care?
A superstar...or someone putting on a good show?
A genius...who still needs to be told they are doing well.
Your perception is your reality. But it also can become the reality we empart on our students and fellow educators. Be careful. What perceptions do you need to act on today? What perceptions do you need to re-evaluate?
If we see a discipline problem walking down the hall- are we going to expect the worst? Then we will get it. Instead, see opportunity.
If we see a dress code violation- are we going to call them out with judgment? Then we will alienate and entrench them. Instead, see a chance for kindness and compassion.
Your perception is your reality-- but it does not have to be theirs.
Last year, I had a teacher friend from another district contact me about issues they were having with their administration regarding their use of flexible seating. This teacher was a math teacher, and had been using their flexible seating for some time and seen improvement in student performance. Yet, they were consistently knocked on evaluations because the admins felt the flexible seating hindered the educational environment, creating inequity. However student scores and morale were up...
I wish this were an isolated incident of innovation being pressed down, but sadly, I hear too often of teachers and administrators taking innovative risks and being shut down, ignored, or- as in this case- essentially punished for the attempt.
And the same time, I read blogs and articles and Twitter feeds championing the need for innovation. I hear administrators challenge teachers and fellow admins to take risks and try something new.
But if this is the common culture of education- why do we not hear about it, see it, or celebrate true innovation?
It starts with the definition. When I hear innovation, I think something that has a significant impact on campus or classroom culture, instructional practice or design, or technology. The key for me being SIGNIFICANT. But I have seen things as basic as a new review model labeled as innovative. For me, innovation is transformative, and a new lesson or worksheet is not transformative. It may be a risk, or a new attempt, but it is not innovative. Yet for some it is. And the issue is that it is difficult to determine which definition is the one being used on your campus. I think it is important to define for your audience what innovation means TO YOU when you define something as being that.
Experience Carries More Weight
Innovative educators are in line behind those with years of experience. Sure, we complain about the dangers of the tenure track at higher ed, but we reward years of experience before we reward QUALITY of experience. An innovator may pack into five years what another has stretched into fifteen, but when promotion to leadership time comes, it is often years that trumps what happened in those years. There is a subtle undercurrent in education that it takes time to develop the craft. " You have to earn it." And you have not earned it until you have done it a long time."Others have worked for it longer than you." I work with some amazing young teachers with less than five years of experience that are breaking new ground in education daily- and I know of veterans who have not changed lessons in years, maybe decades. We need to credit good ideas, whether they come from new teachers or experienced ones.
It's Who You Know
Recently, a new teacher made the news in our area for creating a student run coffee cart for her special education students. She knew a local celebrity, that celebrity shared the teacher's post, it caught media attention and off it went. That is great for this teacher, but that idea has been present on my campus for several years. My wife has done the same thing with her students in the past. I can think of about a half dozen other similar programs that never got that attention. This is not shared with the intent of belittling the innovation of this teacher but to point out that a local celebrity shared innovation and word got out. Are you someone who has the power to share innovative teaching- and if so, are you?
We are Scared
Change is terrifying. As teachers, I think we sometimes fear innovation because it may mean a change to our status quo. Dynamic new ideas and individuals can mean upheaval- too much too fast. That is a real concern, and I in no way advocate change for change's sake. But if there is innovation that brings sound practice, increased student performance/engagement, and more effective/efficient design- why should we fear it?
"Howdy, I am Time and I am an educator's favorite reason for why things do not happen."
Time is a legitimate issue- I get it. I am teaching six periods with four preps in three distinct content areas. I lead a debate team, a TED Ed Club, and a psychology club for my campus. I am on the SEL Team and CIP Team. I am the district head of a new program that is servicing five campuses- none of which I am on. And I still find time to innovate. I do not say this to brag, but to say that we make time for what we care about. If you care about innovation- you will find a way to seek it.
Finally, there is a mindset that innovation is just not important. It is the flashy buzzword of the moment. After a while, we will return to the tried and true methods- we think. Some educators dig in their heels for many of the reasons above and refuse to change.
I cannot change their minds. And neither can you.
You control your thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, many educators find themselves working under leaders who have a mindset block against innovation. Or perhaps worse, they have set the bar for innovation so low that they cannot even see the true innovation when it happens. To these, I hope that you can find a tribe of educators to connect with- to inspire and encourage and to ignite your passion to change.
But do not give up. Keep striving, keep building.
Never stop innovating.
I may be about to turn 39 and headed to my 20th high school reunion this weekend, but I don't see myself as older than 30.
But I act like a 12 year old whenever I can.
I enjoy juvenile jokes, I love superheros, and I am proud to say I can still do flips and backflips on the trampoline. I know these things about myself because I am not afraid to engage in the frivolities of being child-like from time to time.
I spend my days with 14-18 years so ready to grow up and be adults and I want to tell them to slow down. Enjoy the innocence of life without taxes and bills and adult obligations. Then I look at my fellow educators and I want to tell them to take the same advice. Don't be irresponsible and derelict, but do have fun. I know that when I am really struggling with the weight of life, taking a moment to let the inner child out is good for my soul. So here are ten things I suggest you do:
1. Read Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, or Percy Jackson. Again. And for fun, not to analyze symbolism and metaphor.
2. Buy a Nerf gun. If you have children of your own, get them one. Then shoot at them. If you don't have kids, shoot at your friends. Buying them one is optional.
3. Collect something a kid would. Action figures, comic books, baseball cards, Pokemon, video games, whatever you loved as a kid.
4. Play. With toys, in the backyard, on a trampoline (or at a trampoline park). Do an obstacle course 5k, or color run or mud run.
5. Sleep in. If you are able to.
6. Eat candy. Within moderation. Thinking you are 12 does not give you the metabolism of a 12 year old.
7. Have a campfire with friends and family. Roast marshmallows, tell scary stories and count the stars.
8. Ride a bike as fast as you can and coast down a hill- pedals flying free.
9. If is snows, make a snowman and have a snowball fight. Or catch fireflies.
10. Watch a movie you love and see if you can remember all the lines and recite them.
None of these will meet the educational standards you have to cover, but I truly believe if you try at least a couple of these from time to time, you will meet those standards with smile.
And maybe it will translate into your students smiling more as well.
In my first year of teaching, I was a US History teacher. That meant I had to cover a lot of really interesting topics like reforms, wars, Civil Rights, and...farming.
Don't get me wrong, farming is vital and important to survival, and farmers are an integral part of our society. But the lessons are not the most interesting.
And so it was in the midst of one of these lessons, I bored myself. It was not the looks on the faces of the sleepy students, it was my own total lack of interest in what I was saying.
From that day on, I asked myself this question: "Would I take my own classes?" Not about content, not about curriculum, but about instruction.
See, I was not presenting the material in an engaging way. I was just going through the material. And it does not matter how much you love your content or how interesting the topic is- if you are not minding your instructional practices, you will bore your students and yourself. Here are a few ideas to bring life to lessons that I have used:
Video Clips- I love using funny videos to add to the lesson. In my psychology and sociology classes, I often use clips from Friends or the Office to use humor to help students connect to the concepts. Even using viral videos- one of my favorites is the lizard vs snakes video from BBC's Planet Earth series- can add to the relevance of the lesson.
Discussion- The more students get to share their viewpoints, the more they feel connected to the class and the teacher. And if you let students ask the questions, then they take even more ownership. There is a crucial piece here that we must not neglect- students must feel safe to share. That means that as teachers, we cannot quickly shut down their ideas. We must correct when there is error in fact, but when students share opinions that differ from our own, that is OK. Do not fear controversy in discussion- welcome it as a chance to debate in a safe space.
Debate: Students love to argue. Set up positions and have students discuss. In US History, I had students defend the Trail of Tears and another group propose an alternative- it exposed both sides to learning that would never have happened without a debate. I will also have students argue from the point of view that they disagree with to broaden their own perspective.
Simulations- I have done Poverty Simulations the last few years in Sociology. This exercise allows students to experience real world ideas in a classroom. I have done role-playing reviews and charades to let students act out the concepts they learn in class. It works really well for visual and kinesthetic learners to engage in these activities.
Art-I enjoy drawing. But I am not good at it. But I will use what I call "stick figure lessons" to illustrate points. For example, I used something like this below for teaching the battle of Thermopylae.
Why art works for engaging the class is that it is personal and it is visual. Both create connections for students and they are fun!
Take Time- Sometimes, you just need a day to catch up or relax as an adult. So do students. It is OK to have some days or to set aside some times where you build relationships in a non-content specific way. My classes will sometimes have days where we just talk, we engage each other. It builds relationships which are foundational to learning.
I challenge you to ask yourself- "Would you take your class?"
Reflect on your instructional practices- we live in a time where our content is readily available to any student who wants to access it. Our job has become about getting students interested in learning, not about delivering the information.
So, how are you delivering a love for learning?
About this time last year, I sat down to lunch with Kelly Kovacs and Shannon Long from Central Office in CSISD. Our topic was the progress on LEADS, a student leadership empowerment initiative that we had been working on for the last six months. One by one, the members of the team had been called away to other duties or simply moved on, and the three of us were all that was left. And now they too were being called away to other duties.
I believed in this program, and I needed something of significance to invest my energies in, so I asked if I could continue to develop the program. They said yes. I asked if I could build my team. They said yes. And with that, I was off.
Today, twenty CSISD 5th-8th graders- that will now be called Ambassadors- walked into the Transportation Conference room for the first ever LEADS meeting, #LEADSLaunch we called it. Campuses represented included Cypress Grove Intermediate, Pecan Trail Intermediate, A&M Consolidated Middle, College Station Middle, and Wellborn Middle schools. Our LEADS Innovators- our teacher supporters- included myself, Amy Powell (CG), Deidre Merseal (PT), Javan Cashaw and Emily Harding (AMCMS), Christie Brod and Eric Zylman (CSMS), and Bunny Muncie and Jill Butler (WMS).
We greeted the Ambassadors and introduced ourselves, then asked them to do the same.
This was the moment- would they freeze up, balk at the intro, or would the shells crack and leaders begin to emerge.
The shells cracked. The Ambassadors shared their names and what they hoped to get from LEADS, each becoming more and more confident as they shared.
I spoke of the vision of LEADS, and also defined leadership and Ambassador- they are representative of not just themselves, their campus and LEADS, but all of CSISD. They carry a weight, but it is shared by their fellow Ambassadors and by the Innovators as well. I told them they were breaking new ground- being the first to do something that could have tremendous impact.
And many of them shared visions for changing not just one small aspect of their campus, but of changing the culture.
We built some spaghetti towers. Then they fell over. And we learned lessons about communication, structural integrity, and that failure is OK. And that failure is possible- even with LEADS. But that if their plan doesn't work, one Ambassador shared -"Well, then we learned what not to do!" (That was a great moment!)
Merseal and Brod walked the Ambassadors through the True Colors Personality test, and the Ambassadors learned about their diversity of perspectives. They learned that each of their personalities had strengths and weaknesses, but that working together would lead to better success.
Powell challenged Ambassadors to find and use their voice. Ambassadors explored how communication is more than spoken and written words, it is body language, timing, and intent. They learned the power of listening to speak better.
Zylman then talked the Ambassadors through servant leadership, providing models from Ghandi to Jesus to Yoda. See, Yoda is always teaching, even in a lightsaber battle. If our Ambassadors are going to change the cultures of their campuses, then they must serve them with humility.
Then we ate lunch.
The afternoon activity exposed Ambassadors to a problem- students sitting alone at lunch. As a part of the gallery walk activity, Ambassadors had been putting post-its on posters for "What makes a leader?" "Barriers to Communication" and now how to solve the lonely lunch situation.
As the Ambassadors got into their campus groups to work- many quickly realized the issue was deeper than just sitting alone at lunch. It had to go to loneliness at school in general, it had to go beyond surface level discussions, it had to go beyond simply physically being near a person while they consumed lunch. See, almost everyone knew someone who ate alone, or hid out in a teacher's room. More than a handful had themselves felt the weight of a lonely lunch.
The Ambassadors then created a video to explain their solution to our group, then will further develop their video to potentially share on their campus as the first LEADS project.
We closed the day with the challenge that Ambassadors be able to explain to their peers just what LEADS is- to be, you know, Ambassadors.
I have planned many events in my adult life, but never has so much time gone into one thing. Over a year and a half of planning from inception to launch. And as I stood in the empty room at the close of the day, I felt content. I felt proud of my Innovators for their work and their heart for these students. I was impressed greatly by the Ambassadors' steps already taken to impact their campuses after just one day.
I felt certain that the vision is just getting started.
Nothing makes you stop like an unexpected obituary.
Last night, while getting ready for bed after a long day of inservice, meetings, and spending time with some college students my wife and I mentor, I scrolled down Facebook to see my freshman Bible Study leader Norman Hogue had passed away. He was forty.
Shock is all I could feel. I had not been in contact regularly with him since college, but over the years we would chat at reunions- the last of which was just a couple years ago.
As I read down the posts on his page- trying to grasp the reality of his passing, I was struck by his significance. Every post spoke of his character, his love of family and friends, his memorable personality traits. I remember Norman, as a college student, coming to my father's funeral along with about a dozen other Aggie friend.
His was- by all accounts- a life of significance.
I was awoken at three a.m. this morning, and due to processing his passing, and processing my admittedly staggering amount of responsibilities that seem to keep piling up (and only partly because I choose them) I started to think about why anyone does what they do in life.And I kept coming back to one word:
We all want to matter. To know that we left an imprint on at least one person. I believe that even the most introverted, hide-out-in-the-mountains-away-from-people deep down wants to feel of some value. That when someone reaches their end of patience and strength- at the heart of their struggle with life is a desire to know they matter.
I chose teaching because I wanted to make a difference. To matter. To have significance. And if I am being candid- I choose to do so much, to pursue innovation, to seek to become an administrator, to challenge the status quo because I want to do something of significance. I want to reach as many people as I can and make a difference in their lives.
At the end of the day, I want to know that I will leave an impact.
I do not think I am unique in this desire at all.
A class clown wants to make an impact. A star student wants to make an impact. The troublemaker wants to make an impact. The scientist, the artist, the athlete, even the wallflower wants to be remembered when they move on.
Earlier in the day, while meeting with my LEADS Innovators, two of them shared a story about one of our soon to be Ambassadors. According to Emily and Javan, this student was on the track to making an impact- just not a good one. Another teacher, earlier this year, approached the young man and simply yet eloquently questioned his choice of friends. "Wise people hang with wise people. Fools hang with fools. Who are you hanging with?" That simple question was a moment of significance for this student. I do not know who the educator is- but they are significant to me, too.
I want to be significant. Yes, because I want to know that I matter. But I also want to be significant in the way that that teacher was to our soon to be ambassador- to be significant in the lives of others in a way that changes their lives.
Norman Hogue changed my life in some ways. He obviously impacted a lot of other people, too. My hope is that I can be of significance to the lives of those around me- be they friends, family, students, or fellow educators.
That is why I strive, why I reach.
Why I press on.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.