I sat on the beautiful beach yesterday and spoke to a builder whose approach to building homes is very similar to my approach to teaching students. For both of us, our passion lies in our drive to be better. As systematic thinkers, the two of us are devoted to honing our craft and directing our passions towards betterment in our chosen professional fields.
I listened carefully to the way he described his work. I found new avenues to explore in my own work, and I recognized that no matter what else is happening around you, as a professional you can always find your work to be energizing when you focus on how to specifically better your craft and practice in ways that benefit people. As the builder spoke of the satisfaction his clients experience when their new home or addition is complete, I found myself thinking of the satisfaction I get when students learn deeply or experience new knowledge, concept, process, or experiences for the first time--events that are life changing for some, and events that sometimes introduce them to the field they will study or passions they'll nurture throughout their lives.
We can all become entrenched in systematic tangles and struggles. I've certainly experienced my fair share of those in my tenure as an educator, a tenure marked by my desire for schools to be more modern, streamlined, student-focused, and successful. Yet as I think about the years ahead, I am thinking about how I will deepen my craft and practice and zero in on the finer details of teaching well--details that will help students become more aware of goal setting, rationale, self-assessment, reflection, and celebration--details that essentially empower students' abilities to become lifelong learners and problem solvers who are able to flexibly, confidently, strategically, and successfully navigate good lives of happy living and contribution to their greater communities and world.
I do believe that we do better together, and that betterment has a lot to do with understanding our paths, passions, and contribution to our own living and the lives of others.
We can untangle systematic snags with common vision and goals, deep think, and positive communication. When we allow the elephants in the room to take over rather than systematically dissecting those obstacles, we close the door to potential that's positive and possible.
The week's beach vacation has also reminded me of how important it is to take time off to purely relax in nature's beauty with time to play, think, read, and be with loved ones. Too often we all forget to give ourselves the reprieves we need to be whole, well-rested, and energized. This is an important ingredient to doing your best work too. Onward.