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.