Our lives as educators began many years ago when the actions of a special, gifted professional touched our lives on a personal level. Maybe it was their use of humor to make learning fun. Maybe it was their storytelling that made the content engaging. Maybe it was their compassion that made us feel safe and willing to take risks. Perhaps it was an unending feeling of inspiration when we sat in their classroom. Maybe we don't even know when or how it happened, just that it did. Make no mistake about it though, there was a defining moment for all of us when something inside of us revealed that we were destined to become teachers.
Over the years we have become those special, gifted people who inspire and engage and have even influenced those "defining moments." for others.
As leaders of learners we remain cognizant of the potential impact of our words, attitudes and actions upon the lives of our students. The impact can be positive or negative. However, that judgement is reserved for them based on our influence, on any particular day. We must prepare not only to provide a quality instructional experience but the experience should leave our students inspired and motivated and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next day. We must be careful when infusing our personal opinions within the learning environment to remember that they carry influence, even if we preface our statements with " in my opinion." We become their "role models". As a result, our responsibilities require us to guide and nurture them in a manner that will allow them to flourish rather than wither.
How many times have we said, "We are here for them?" When we establish and build strong relationships with our students, and create a positive learning culture with them, then we begin to fulfill that promise of " being here, for them." Whether you are a veteran teacher, a student teacher or a teacher navigating through your early years, our mission is clear. We must prepare today's learners to become productive adults and enable them to make meaningful contributions for their communities. For the mission to be accomplished, our approach must be varied according to the strengths of the learner and the learner must be challenged. Furthermore the learner must be actively engaged in the learning process and the learner must be invested in the outcome. Successful accomplishment of the mission allows for the prosperity of both the learner and our society.
In the 21st century, the landscape of learning continues to change and the expectations of the teacher and the learner continues to change as well. These changes are based on the implementation of state and national reforms that elevate the anxiety levels for both the student and the teacher due to the uncertainty of achievement. However if we are to continue to advance as a society, on a national and global level, then the foundation of learning must continue to be the imagination of the learner. Moreover, the teacher must continue to cultivate a culture of learning that inspires and allows the imagination of the individual learner to evolve to its fullest potential. For those of us that have already "answered the call" we will continue to adhere to and adapt to institutionally mandated reforms but we must never lose sight of the the reason that we "answered the call" to begin with.