This year my kids are proving to me, over and over again, if I raise the bar they will find a way to scale it. Naturally, this will be followed by a glance back at me with a, "That's all ya got?" smirk. Why not? When I challenge them, they challenge me right back.
Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, "If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves," and I agree completely. I consider it my responsibility to help my students find out what makes them tick, grasp at their passion, and run wildly towards their dreams. They deserve that from me. They deserve a life well lived. I want to help them find that life.
The problem in the classroom (for me, anyway) is finding the way to help all of my students turn their light on. How do we take an uninterested, seemingly unmotivated student and help him or her transform into a child full of wonder? I've spent years searching for that answer, and I assume I'll spend many more -- in truth, if I ever find a solid, concrete answer, I suppose I've lost a little of my own wonder. The minute I stop growing, reaching, searching, and navigating my own maze towards excellence is the exact instant my students have a right to tune me out. I am no longer valid if I am no longer passionate about my pursuits.
I love the delight in their eyes when I show them a new way to look at an old problem. I love the flicker of pride I see when a boy who once hated reading now devours books with a ferocious hunger -- as if making up for lost time. I love when past students bring me books to read because they know I will still read them, and my heart literally jumps when a struggling writer finds words they never knew they had.
This year I am seeing this happen more than ever before. Kids are enjoying what they learn. They are helping one another succeed. They are eager to try new things.
So I have to ask myself ... why? I still teach the same grade in the same school with the same level of excitement that I always have. Why are my kids jumping forward and so eager to challenge themselves now?
A few things have changed -- I went to Summer Institute with the North Star of Texas Writing Project over the summer, I have given them so many technology resources they are giddy to try them all, and thanks to Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, I completely revamped the way I teach reading.
But I think it's more than the sum of these things. I am more confident. I try new things and ask questions later. I step out on a limb and say, "May as well TRY to fly since I'm out here!" more often. I share more resources. I copy less and do more.
Confidence breeds confidence. My kids spend their day with a strong, energetic, confident, passionate teacher. I like a good challenge, and I certainly don't back down from some healthy competition -- and they know this. This year, my kids are in a classroom full of choice lead by a teacher whose confidence is finally growing.
I think we're going to be good for each other, this group of 21 strong-willed geniuses and me.
Cross-posted from my blog.