Thursday, August 20, 2015

Go Forth and Be Human

I am a firm believer in the growth mindset.

I didn't used to be, but it grew on me...

Jokes aside, I believe that we grow and learn through making mistakes. I am not the teacher that I was when I started teaching and I like to think that I'm a better teacher as a result of the mistakes that I've made.

I have never claimed to be perfect and the longer I teach, the more I recognize that I have an insane amount still to learn.

One lesson that I'm still learning is that I am human.  No matter how much I learn and grow, I will still make mistakes.  As long as I use those mistakes to make myself better tomorrow, I'm at least moving in the right direction.

I strive to be better tomorrow than I am today.  Some days, I am, others not so much.  I hope that on aggregate, I'm better than I used to be, that my general trend is up the mountain.

I also need to recognize that I will slip, stagger and sometimes fall.  In continuing the mountain analogy, some mistakes will force a hiker to go back to base camp.  If they do, they regroup, get new supplies and head back up the mountain.

Everyone starts from a different place, and everyone is fighting a battle that we can't imagine.

Three years ago, I started running.  Two years ago, I ran a half marathon.  That was an amazing accomplishment for me.  The amount of effort and dedication that it took for me to complete that task was different than it would be for anyone else.

This is true for my students as well.  Each one has different needs, different abilities and different interests.

Each student is an individual.  I have been working on meeting them where they are and helping them to become the best version of themselves.

Do I want them to become passionate experts in the courses I teach? Absolutely!  Do I want them to have breakthroughs in their learning and achievement? Of course!

Do I want them to look back and see my class as the best they've ever had? Well, that would be pretty cool.

But more than any of those things, I want them to be happy and healthy.  I want them to pursue their interests with energy and passion.  I want them to learn from their mistakes and grow as a result.

I want them to be human.

I have a coworker whom I deeply respect.  She taught English for many years before becoming the literacy coach in my building.  Over the past 4 years, I have gone to her for guidance and direction more than a few times and she has always been supportive in a way that helps me to be better.

Every time students leave her presence, she tells them to have a great day learning.  It sets a tone for her and her students.

I've been thinking about how my content area will be different this year than ever before.  I've been wondering what sorts of lessons I can bring from my old classes into my new ones.  That has caused me to ask myself what the goals of my classroom are.  My main goal has been to have my students, like me, be better tomorrow than today, but better on their own terms.

To be human.

I plan to use content, tests, quizzes, projects, discussions and passion to help them to be human.  With all of these things circling in my head, I've decided on the motto for my class.

This will be as much of a reminder to myself as it will be to them.  We all make mistakes.  We can be forgiven for making them as long as we use them to become better.

I hope that by the end of this year, I will be a better teacher and a better person than I am today.

Once again, I will be keeping this blog as a daily collection of my thoughts so that I can look back and learn from my mistakes.  I hope that all of my readers will join me on this journey.

In the mean time, I offer up this challenge:

Go forth and be human.


  1. So glad to have you posting again. I hope you share these goals with your students; it will be refreshing for them to hear your first goal for them is not to get A's.

  2. This is a great reminder. I feel like I should put a copy of this in my desk drawer so the words are right at my fingertips.

  3. "Go forth and be human." I love the sentiment, for students and teachers alike. I look forward to following your journey through another school year. Make it a great one, Justin!


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