As an educator, I first work for the students. For some, believe it or not, this might be alarming as they feel I should first work for them and no matter what or how children are feeling, their mandates come first. Yet for most in education, they agree that we all work for children first.
What does this mean for the work we do and how we do it? This is a particularly important question because teaching and learning are limitless propositions--there's no end to what we can do or how we can do it. Our greatest challenge here is how we prioritize and use the limited time and energy we have.
As someone who works for children, I have to be thoughtful about what's most important. As I think of this, I can point out the following shortlist of priorities:
- health and safety
- a solid foundation of academic and life skills
- positive coaching in relation to life's challenges, issues, and opportunities
So what does that mean for my work. First it means that I have to make sure that the environment I teach is as healthy and safe as possible. And I have to be someone who is available to students who are feeling unhealthy or unsafe, and then reach out to authorities, if need be, to remedy the situation.
It also means that I have to be continually assessing children's happy--are they happy at school, and if not, why not? Happiness is a key ingredient to life's success.
Next, I have to help students gain a solid foundation of academic and life skills. There are many ways to do that, and as an educator I work with families, students, colleagues, and school/district/state leadership to determine the best paths and optimal environment to move students ahead into their future in positive and promising ways.
Currently we try to help students gain a strong foundation of academic and social-emotional learning skills and experience to gain that solid foundation. This work is always evolving as the world changes and new knowledge about best learning and living is discovered and shared.
Finally as children grow, whether it be our children at home or at school, it's our job to positively coach them ahead into their independence--to help them grow the optimal skills, concept, knowledge, and attitudes that will help them navigate their world with as much success as possible.
I truly enjoy working for children. This work is most challenging when the advocacy I have to do creates havoc and discord amongst others. Since children don't have much of a voice in American society, it's sometimes hard work to advocate for what they need to prosper in happy, healthy, and positive ways. Our investments in children don't reap huge financial or material rewards, and often times the results of the good work we do for children are not visible to us or known to us since those children move on from us into their lives. We have to trust our good work and the investment we make.