Due to technical difficulties we actually got a two hour pep talk, actually a motivational kick in the pants to get this year started. I can't tell you how much this man motivates me. He is a great speaker, but beyond that his passion for education just oozes out of him and it is so authentic that you can't be an educator and not be inspired.
He asked us to reflect on 5 powerful questions. I will share them here and start to answer them. I say start because this is going to take time to develop. However, I don't think it is something I can put off for someday when I have the perfect answers, because this is what will shape me as a teacher. And every single day I am in front of my students is critical and I must be prepared.
- Are my students at an advantage because I am their teacher?
This question is more of a mantra I’ve got to start convincing myself of. You cannot expect greatness out of your students if you don’t believe you are great. I’ve had a not so hot track record with my test scores that I constantly allow to bring my self confidence down, but I have to remember that even though the test scores are important they can’t be the only indicator of success. I know from students that I’ve taught in the past that I am making a difference and giving them confidence in their abilities and teaching them to strive for greatness. To that end my mantra is this:
My students are at an advantage because as their teacher I believe in them and I believe in my ability to mold them into exceptional learners.
- Why do I teach, anyway?
This may not sound polished and worded correctly, but I do feel this is accurate. I feel that I allowed doors to be closed because I thought I wasn’t a good math student. I once took a mathematical aptitude test at the Chubb Institute and they were shocked by my high score. I was too and didn’t believe it or pursue the opportunity to get into the tech field in the late 90’s which could have really changed my life. This makes me passionate about helping students avoid this same mistake.
I teach because I want to be the person in a young person’s life who shows them that they have a choice in their future. That there are doors that can open and close, and to guide them to decide that they will not have any of those doors close so that they can peruse their greatness, especially if they don’t know yet what that might be.
- How badly do you want to see your students succeed? What will be the evidence? How much time will you devote?
This is my 7th year as a teacher, I still have the same drive and determination as I had the first year. The only reason I can think of for this is because I truly want my kids to soar. Its not about me being a great teacher, it's about seeing students reach their greatness.
I will do whatever it takes to make sure my students succeed. Success means that they master the content that they are required to and also to become lifelong learners themselves.
- Where will my students be ten years from now as a result of having me as their teacher.
Principal Kafele stresses that the ten years is just an arbitrary number, and we have to think about the impact we are making on students futures. I am lucky enough to be connected with a few of my former students on social media and it brings me such joy to see them soaring. It is my hope that the majority of my students have successful lives.
In ten years from now, my students will be first year college students. It is my goal that my students develop the mindset that they can grow their brains and do anything they set their mind to do. Not only will they go on to college but they will not need remedial classes because they learned the value of hard work and perseverance.
- Do my students see in me who and what they can become?
I love how Principal Kafele explains that you can be a role model to anyone in front of you, it doesn’t matter if you are a different race or gender. I will strive to be that role model to my students. I think the most important thing is to be authentic. Kids can sniff out fakes like nobody's business!
I can't stress enough what an impact Principal Kafele made on me today with his Facebook Live message. I really urge anyone who reads this to look him up on Facebook and listen to these recordings.