What does this word mean to you?
Webster defines it as a chance or possibility that something will happen or exist in the future. It is a quality that something or someone has that can be developed to make it better. It's an ability that someone has that can be developed to help that person become successful.
I recently watched a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about an 85 year old sushi chef who is constantly striving for greatness in his work and passion. His work ethic is inspiring and made me realize some things about myself as a teacher.
1. Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work.
I don't know about completely immersing yourself but I think you need to dedicate your time and effort to improving a little bit each day. As a teacher I feel like I'm constantly struggling to meet the demands of my job; meetings and deadlines and forms, professional development classes, and emails. I sometimes forget that the most important part of my job are the kids. What I do (or not do) directly affects their lives and the path of their learning.
2. You have to fall in love with your work.
There's no doubt that I love kids and teaching. I love the rare moments when every single child is engaged and working, and not for an external reward or to please you. When I see that genuine enjoyment and passion for learning, I think that maybe I'm in the right career. I love to see the growth from the beginning to the end of the year. I'm so blessed and privileged to be a tiny part of their lives and sometimes I get so emotional when kids leave my classroom because of how much you invest in them. I still worry about MY kids. They'll always be my kids. I love my career despite the constant nagging I give, the extra 3-4 hours after school, spending money I don't really have, and the list goes on. But it always comes back to the kids.
3. Never complain about your job.
That one's tough. It's so hard not to complain about the things you don't like about work. This is something I really need to work on.
There is also the issue of teacher salary, policies on education, budget cuts, and occasional views of seeing us as no more than glorified babysitters. Sometimes teachers are the last ones thanked, but the first ones blamed. But why am I trying to change things I can't control? Why am I complaining about things I don't even try to change? So instead of complaining, focus on what you can change. Focus on the good. Fortunately I am blessed to be in a school environment where I have full support from parents, staff, and administration. I have no idea where the teachers who don't have this support get their strength and energy.
4. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably.
This is also hard. Sometimes I wonder if I really am getting better as a teacher or if I am flat lining. How can I become better? What strategies can I use to improve my teaching skills? What will engage them the most? Am I getting through to them? Are they even listening to me?
These are questions I am constantly asking myself. I know I'm loving and caring and strict and teach them respect. I try to meet their individual needs. I wish there was a simple formula to being a great teacher. And it's hard not to look back and think if I had just done a little more, they would be doing better.
But doubts and regrets are useless. I live in the present. I have kids now.
Like Jiro, I want to strive to improve daily and never give in to the idea that I've reached my peak.
Potential. We all have it. It's not impossible if we have the potential to achieve it. If I believe the kids have the potential to learn, why shouldn't I have that potential also?
I like this quote about perseverance where it says that perseverance is the hard work you do in the classroom after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. It's a struggle, but it's one I will keep doing because this is my calling. This is part of who I am. I am a teacher.