Friday, January 21, 2011

Week 16: Why Teaching Is Important

 “This event is important not because of its potential for disaster but because of its potential for greatness.”

I told my principal this as I talked about the leading the school in singing “We Shall Overcome,” during a school assembly. One of my favorite memories of celebrating Martin Luther King Day was singing “We Shall Overcome” in a crowded church and I wanted to recreate this feeling for my school. 

If the students didn’t find this sing-along meaningful, it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, singing this song and thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. could change the way a some of the students feel about the world around them.

I’m lucky.  As a teacher, the worst that happens in my day is that a students doesn’t really learn anything during one of my lessons. There are people like doctor’s and policemen who on bad days deal with unthinkable tragedy. Those negative consequences bring into focus an understanding of why what they do is relevant to society and all of our lives.

What makes being a teacher important is our potential to serve our students in life-changing ways. It’s a shift in the way we value things focusing not on disaster but potential.  This is the same reasons why many things in our lives are important.

I have so many opportunities on a daily basis to make a positive impact on my students’ life. Whether it’s smiling at a students in the hallway or teaching an amazing lesson, I can have a lasting impact on students. Every one of us has memories of teachers in our lives who have made important and positive influences on our lives. It’s the opportunity we all have every day to makes those moments happen that make our interactions with each other matter.

There’s a lot of wasted moments and lost opportunities in teaching. Many teachers are complacent because they don’t have that suffer immediate negative consequences.  One of the solutions would is to impress on them how much potential they have be a positive force in someone’s life. If this doesn’t excite them, if this doesn’t motivate them, then maybe they should think about changing careers.

Did leading a sing-along of “We Shall Overcome” change any of my students’ lives? I’d like to think so, but I’ll never know and that’s one of the hardest parts about being a teacher.  However, that doesn’t keep me from trying every day to do the best I can.  Why?  Because in my mind I can't let go of the idea of how great I can make things for my students and it excites me.  

Let’s make our world a little brighter for the people around us. Tell someone in your life, someone at work or home about how their positivity makes effects you.  If we all do this we’ll find that we are all important to someone because of the meaning we bring to each others’ lives.

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