Each year in my psychology class, I show two movies. One is the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It features great examples of states of consciousness, motivations, stress responses, and identity formation. Central to the movie plot is Walter Mitty's devotion to his soon to be extinct employer. The movie tells us that the motto of Life magazine (in reality, it ended in 1972 and had a much shorter motto) is this:
To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
I love this movie. If you've not seen it, you really should. The clip below shows how the motto plays a role in Mitty's character development:
This is a vision statement if ever I saw one.
I am loving exploring vision statements. My class vision statement, prominently displayed in front of my class is this:
Don't tell me what I can't do.
I have to give credit to the TV show LOST there, but I use it to inspire students to think just how much they are capable of. It worked so well that at several points, when I was expressing something I felt limited by, my students pointed to the sign and quoted it back to me.
There is power in a motto, in vision statements. Yet, after a recent Twitter chat, I came to realize how few teachers have a vision statement for their classroom. Sure, they have a campus vision statement, but do they have one for their own unique culture?
And so, as I watched Walter Mitty again, I was once again struck by the motto of Life, and thought how it could apply to, and maybe inspire, our teachers. So, here is my paraphrase:
At the heart of this motto is not content. It is not curriculum. It is not instruction.
It is relationships.
How do we teach? With fact streams? With textbooks? With lectures? With discussion? With powerpoint or Prezi?
If we do not teach with heart, with vision- it doesn't matter.
So, if you do not have a vision statement for your class, what would you like it to be? I want to challenge you to seek vision, to define your purpose and goal- beyond teaching the curriculum.
Vision and heart- the two ingredients for great teachers that cannot be left out.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, Communication Applications and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team and co-sponsor Student Council. I am an aspiring administrator.