Friday, November 18, 2011

Year 2: Week 11 - Recognition

What motivates you at your job?  Money?  Climbing the ladder?  Prestige? 

I once told my wife that I didn’t become a teacher to become famous or be in the newspaper.  Then she pointed out the hundreds of students I taught who know me and my feature in the Chicago Tribune

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.

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