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Thursday, May 21, 2009

I touch the future...I teach. (Christa McAuliffe)

This morning we had our BESTT breakfast in the library. BESTT means "Bridging the Educational Scene for Teachers of Tomorrow." Our students are paired with teachers for a year or two and basically intern with them. It gives them a taste of what teaching can be about. For the most part, they can approach whichever teacher in the district they'd like to work with, but our teacher/coordinator does have a pool to select from as well.

The breakfast this morning was a celebration for completing the year. It was a thank you to the coordinating teachers for putting up with them. *grin* Each of the teachers present was asked to give one last piece of life experience advice to the students. Everyone talked about being flexible, following your passion, and remembering to listen for your calling. All excellent advice.

I was listening in, I love to hear what others tell our students because it's often good advice for me as well. One of the teachers mentioned receiving a graduation announcement from a former student whose chosen profession isn't the box she (the teacher) would've put her in. And it set me to thinking.

If I could give advice to graduating seniors (or any student) this year, I'd tell them this...

Don't allow yourself to be boxed.

We've been discussing around campus lately the general behavior of our students. I'm worried (afraid, entirely too certain?) that too many of our faculty blame the behavior on the kids. Frankly, that's just crazy.

My friend Becky trains dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, scary dogs, happy dogs, ADHD dogs, and even the ones that are lazy. She'll tell you the key is consistency. The jockey who rode the horse Mine that Bird to win the Kentucky Derby this year, said “I rode him like a good horse.” Seriously, that's what all horses are--good horses. It's the trainer, the rider, the guy sweeping out the stall that makes the difference. That's all teenagers are, too--good horses, I mean kids.

If we're having trouble with students year after year, and it's always a different mix of students, then the problem is us. We're the only common denominator from year to year.

But I'd also tell graduating seniors (and all students) that...

Sometimes, you have to embrace the box.

Sometimes. Certainly not always. But sometimes that box is the one you need to be in, in order to get out of it later on. Sometimes, climbing into the box is how you grow, or how you escape. Sometimes it's what you have to do to hear the message about where you should be and what you should be doing.

I know it sounds contradictory--"no box" but "yes box." Life is contradictory. It just is.

By the of my heroes is Christa McAuliffe. She was one of the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Challenger explosion in January 1986. She was first a teacher.

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