Maybe it's about recognition. There's three levels of recognition I remember learning about in high school:
Level 1: When you do something for someone you need them to acknoledge you for what you did directly and give you credit in order for you to feel satisfied.
Level 2: When you do something for someone you don't need them to acknowledge your gesture, you simply want to see their happiness due to your actions.
Level 3: When you do something you are satisfied with you actions without them knowing it came from you. Also you don't need to witness the joy your actions engendered.
I would say that most of the time I'm in level 2, sometimes I lean into level 1 and every so often I feel level 3.
I'm not going to claim that I don't do things in my job to get recognition. This is only my second year here and I feel it's important for me to let people know what I do. At the same time I do consider myself a humble person.
My job is one of service. I do what I can for my students so that they can be successful. My greatest joys in teaching come not from me leading a group of students in performing a song but being able to sit back and watch a group work independently. While I care about what people think, what outweighs that more often than not is the experiences my students have.
My motivation to do things around the school is about wanting a challenge, having pride in what I do and knowing at the end of the day I'm a good teacher. I'm not in the business of "Kingsley Tang," which I guess is an ironic statement as I'm writing this on my blog.
I think anyone who says they don't care about what people think is lying. I care, but I guess, I don't care enough to let it rule my decisions on a daily basis. I never think, "wow, I if I do this, people will think I'm awesome." I think "wow, this would be a lot of fun for my students," and I guess that's really where it's all at: service.
I have not found a greater joy in life then in serving and taking care of others and while I like recognition, but I don't need. I feel squarely in level 2 the more I think about it. I just want to see others enjoy life on a deeper level and if I can help them get there, just a little bit, that makes all of the hard work worth it.
One of my co-worked told me that I need to think less about "me" and the more I think about it, the more I disagree. So much of what I do, most of what I do does not bring me recognition. No one is going to give me a medal for correcting homework or cleaning up the band room. No one is going to throw me a parade for me for answering my e-mails every morning. But I do these things every day, because I care about my students. I love it when they thank me, but I don't need that to get through my day, I know I'm making a difference.
If you don't believe me and you think I'm full of it, that's ok, because your thinking that isn't going to change a thing that I do.
I'm Kingsley Tang. I'm a teacher. As a teacher I'm proud to serve my students every day. My job is not take the spotlight, but to help my students shine. All I need to keep going every day is to feel a little bit of the light that comes from my students through my service.