Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Smile: Why Teaching is Worth It

Today, the first day back after a two week break, I led my class through a series of goal-setting activities. I went over the requirements of a goal and the idea of setting mini-goals in order to accomplish the larger ones. Always using myself as an example, I talked about goals past, present, and future -- and I asked students to think about setting physical, emotional, and mental goals and mini-goals for themselves.

(Note: I give a variation of this speech every quarter, to be honest, since I believe in the power of goal-setting. But even I can't resist the gravitational pull of a New Year, and so I put a different spin on it and dragged the speech out yet again.)

Finally, one student raised his hand. When I called on him, he said, "Can you just go over all your hobbies again?"

I raised an eyebrow.

He waved a hand to reassure me he wasn't being flippant. "No, no. It's just that you do everything." He started naming things and going through his fingers.

Then he blushed. And said, "Never mind."

And it was a priceless moment in high school education.

For the record, I don't. Do everything, that is. But I do want to inspire my students to be more and to do more and to aspire to more than they ever thought possible. When I share my goals with them, it's because I want them to realize that even an old teacher can dream and believe and reach her dreams. And if I can do it, they absolutely can -- and if they can't believe in themselves yet, I will for them until they can.

Teaching is humbling and awe-inspiring and gut-wrenching every single day. And I love every moment of it.


Dal Jeanis said...

Tony Robbins repeats a story fairly often - at least once in every tape series - about a longitudinal study done by Harvard starting in 1953. They asked various things of the graduating class, then followed up after 10, 20, 40 years.

At the time of graduation, only about 5% of them had written goals and a written plan for achieving them.

At the end of 40 years, that same 5% had more wealth than the other 95% combined.

scribd claims this 1953 study is an urban myth, but it doesn't show up on Another phrasing I see, whether the same or a different study, says that after 30 years the 3% that set written goals were earning 10 times the average of the 83% that had no defined goals. This is roughly consistent with expecting that their retained net worth would exceed the others as well.