Friday, October 7, 2011

The Weekend Begins

It's 5:00, and I am still sitting in my classroom.  I had this plan to do some grading during the carnival after school today, but I found myself making the rounds throughout campus and even made two unexpected visits to jail on crimes that I did not commit.  The real crime was making me sing to get out of jail although my renditions of Elvis and Garth Brooks were rather quite good in my opinion.  I am very fortunate I had the opportunity to see my students and former students in a casual setting, outside of the classroom.  I had the opportunity to see people with their friends, laughing with their friends and ultimately enjoying this beautiful October day.  Overall, it was a good turnout, and I had fun as I always do at the carnival.

As I am doing some work to prepare for my classes next week, I thought I would take a moment to share my thoughts about life and education.  To me, those two words, life and education, go together like peanut butter and jelly.  They are relevant words that have extraordinary meanings and when combined, they create a new frame of thinking and learning.  Life is full of educational opportunities.  We learn from our mistakes, and learn from our successes to the point where we grow and foster new meanings to those words.  Life without education, in my opinion, is meaningless.  We encounter educational opportunities on a daily basis that impact our life or the life of somebody else whether we know it at the time or not.  I have had several of those "life lessons" where at the time, I didn't want to accept or even acknowledge the fact that the poor decisions I made would have an impact on my life.  Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger is what I have always believed.

As I reflect upon the last couple of weeks of school, I worked on grades and grading, analyzed class scores and data to the point where I question my ability and my effectiveness as an educator.  I am always trying to find new, exciting, and intriguing ways to educate my students.  Sometimes these ideas work and sometimes they blow up in my face.  But, these challenges in my own profession also fosters new ways of thinking and teaching.  I have always made it a point to comment on the fact that I am doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do.  I love my career, and there is nothing on this earth that I would rather be doing.  I know that for five days a week, I have some of the most interesting kids that have different abilities and talents that go beyond the classroom.  I know that I have some of the most selfless and giving students because they volunteer their time and energy to help those that are less fortunate.  I know I have students that will be famous one day for their contributions to the world and making it a better place to live.  Knowing what I know, it is a privilege for me to be a part, although a small part, in my students' lives.  That's what keeps me coming back day after day to La Sierra: knowing that I have some of the greatest students in the world.

Now that I have built you up, now it's time to bring you back down to the real world.  Even though I have the greatest students in the world, I also know that many of you are achieving below your potential.  Some of you are making decisions that may not affect you currently, but down the road they could have some serious adverse effects.  For a majority of you, I only see you for five hours a week.  What you do outside of the classroom is your business, but when your decisions start to hinder your academic potential and performance, then that's where it becomes personal for me.  I believe in second chances, but I also believe that meeting high expectations and standards are signficant to a quality education.  Sure, our educational system isn't perfect.  In fact, it's far from perfect.  But, this is not an excuse.  We have to find the drive and motivation to succeed in everything we do.  This may require us to go outside of our comfort zone, but we owe it to ourselves to give our best in everything we do.  Otherwise, we are wasting our time. 

I was a high school student once before many years ago and looking back, I know that I had some classes that I felt were boring, didn't apply to me, or I asked myself repeatedly, when am I ever going to need this in the real world?  I know many of you have the same questions.  I have answers for you.  First of all, you will never get along with all of your teachers, truly love every class you take, enjoy doing homework, writing essays, or taking tests.  But, think of your education as an opportunity to explore your own personal interests and passions.  Your education is a gateway to your future and no matter what road you take, you write your own destiny.  Your future begins with your education.  Your life begins with education.  The more skills you have in life, the more problems you will be able to solve, and that's what this world is in desperate need of: talented people.  We all have our talents and passions.  Some of you have no idea what those are, but after time and after working on your own education, you will find those talents and passions and make them a part of your life.

In close, I know I can be longwinded at times and this blog post is no different.  I truly love what I do.  I have the opportunity to teach and learn from some of the most gifted students in the world.  I truly believe this.  But, think of  your education as an opportunity to write your own desinty in which your passions and talents are used on a daily basis to benefit not only yourself but also the world.  Your life is what you make it, and it all starts with your education.

If you have made it this far, then I applaud you.  Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you all on Monday.  Have a great weekend.  Leave me a comment on this post, and I will give you some extra credit. 


Katrina Gawrys said...

Mr. Palo I really enjoyed reading your post. I like what you had to say about life and education. I am very happy to have you as a teacher because you actually care about teaching and your students. I feel I have learned and will continue learning a lot from you. Thank you.

Veronika said...

What a fascinating post. Even though it was long, your blog post was interesting and you were able to connect to students through it.

Steven Gardner said...

So glad I have you as a teacher. Ive had teachers that care, but none to the extent that you do. It really brings some light into the education system. It fills me with joy to see someone that has a genuine passion for what they do. If only every teacher had this mind set.

JillDeMagno said...

I really like your outlook on life. I liked everything you wrote in your post. The thing that I enjoyed reading the most and what stood out to me was "I didn't want to accept or even acknowledge the fact that the poor decisions I made would have an impact on my life. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger is what I have always believed."
I used to believe my bad decisions and bad events in my life made me a failure, however, this proves that one should be optimistic on new opportunities in life. Your post was very uplifting and positive and personally made me feel better about myself. I'm sure whoever reads this will be greatly affected and will be encouraged to fulfill their dreams and be passionate in what they do.

MÉLISSA said...

Palo, I've read this post over and over and it always gets to me. So I finally decided to post on it. It gives me this energy that makes me feel like I’m super woman. I can do anything in this world! I realized I can. I have control over my decisions I make in life. Before this class every time I failed I felt embarrassed somewhat ashamed of my own self. I learned that mistakes anyone can make and it’s just on learning from them. I didn’t realize how the topics you’ve talked about really come deep. Bullying, wow it has become a big issue and topic I love discussing. You’ve made a great impact in my life as a teacher and as a person. I’m sure im not the only student who has told you that. I appreciate you caring for us and listening to our opinions. You’re a great person palo and im thankful to have met you as a coach and a teacher, but after all as a friend! Your inspiring words make us feel, good and makes us feel like no goal is unreachable. Thank you Palo, your inspiring words I’ll always take on my road to success.