When I first heard about the “One Word” theme on Twitter, I have to admit that I dismissed it as kind of a pointless exercise. After all, who could possibly encapsulate their entire year into one word, no matter how ambitions or appropriate it was?
But then I figured, why not? After all, most of my PLN doesn’t have time for long explanations of what I want to do as a teacher. (I know, you’re reading one right now, but this is considerably more than 280 characters long, and besides, if you’re reading this, you are part of my PLN and care about my progress as an educator to some degree.)
So, I settled on a hyphenated word. I want to be…a door-opener.
What I want is to create opportunities for kids to succeed. Not always in terms of superior classroom performance — but maybe. Not always in terms of winning a business competition — but maybe. Not always in terms of writing an essay that wins them a trip to New York City — but maybe.
I want kids to see me showing them there are opportunities to grow intellectually.
I want them to see that improvement in the course of a year is vastly more important than a 4.0 GPA, no matter what a single test or a college may say.
I want them to see that success is, as John Wooden put it, “peace of mind which is a direct result of…knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
I want them to know that a single missing assignment doesn’t mean the end of their grade, nor does it mean they can’t learn anything from the material they missed the first time.
I want them to be able to come through my open door to ask for help, and to know they will get it when they need it — even if it’s at the last minute.
I don’t want them to have another experience with a teacher who gives no quarter, who slams doors on growth, who demands constant perfection, who doesn’t forgive, who is overly stringent with kids with the justification of “This is how it’s going to be in college.”
Some teachers have said, in my hearing, that they shut off chances for students to learn because “They have to learn responsibility.” Bull. Most of my students know they have to be on time for a theater rehearsal, or that they have to make sure their little sister is fed while Mom and Dad are at work, or that they have to get to work on time to keep their after school jobs. Or that they have to lift their weights, or run their sprints, or practice their scales, in order to succeed.
To be the kind of teacher that I’ve just described is to be a door-slammer. Well, I’ve had the door slammed in my face as a student. I’m sure you have too, at some point. It didn’t feel right, because it wasn’t right.
I resolve, this year, to open — and prop open — doors for my students until there is literally no time left for the door to be open.
Gonna go make some doorstops in the workshop now…wanna come with?