littlecolourfulteacher

littlecolourfulteacher

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pathway to excellent

February 4, 2018 , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We did a professional development as a whole staff recently where we were asked to name, in a sentence, what sparks our passion as people. Not as teachers, but as people. And found myself saying immediately, without thought or preparation:

“If ‘excellent’ is the highest pinnacle, like the North Star, or the top of a mountain, then I am determined to find a way to get there with my students without shame. I will not hold any of their personal attributes or actions against their inherent value, or allow that to colour their pathway to achieving excellence. But I WANT excellence. That’s unmistakable. It’s in the blood. I just think that you can do it joyfully, with a love of learning the whole way. It can be honest, gritty, no-frills, and monotonous, but it will not cut or hurt them personally.”

So my spark of passion in one sentence is this:

I want to bring the students under my direction to their best selves in an envelope of joy and worthiness. 

I’m an example in my words, in how I am as a person, in how I recover, in how I deal with stress, in the challenges I choose to accept, in how I love and care for myself and the people important to me, and even in how I interact with the people I do not like or respect.

You can get to “excellent” by squeezing it out of a kid, by threatening them, by coercing them, by holding academic barriers over them, by comparing them to others, by pitting them against your own self-worth, by unwittingly emotionally cornering them into doing what you want. You know what? It all produces the same result of excellent. How twisted is that?! I hate that. But there it is. I will actually get you the result that you want. I’ve seen it happen.

But THAT version of excellent, forged from a foundation of shame – and that IS what it all is, shame packaged in various forms – doesn’t eff-ing fly. It doesn’t stick, it’s not life-long. And students will fight it the way their bodies fight disease; instinctively.

And why would you want to connect that with excellence and their self-worth?

Teachers, check your words + intent carefully. I have to on a daily basis.

And find another way.

I will find the only other way to “excellent” that doesn’t involve shame, even if I have to find the goddamn scenic route that takes twice as long.

Because that’s my spark.

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