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My Mission: All Children Will Have Great Teachers!

April 29, 2014

Yesterday, my colleague, Jennifer and I went to our university’s photo shoot for our new marketing campaign, “What is your mission?” We met several energetic, kind, and creative young people who took our picture and recorded short interview videos.
Of course the first thing we did was ask their names and try to get to know them in a short time. That teacher thing about building relationships and showing a genuine interest in people is just part of who we are. Kenny was surprised that we asked his name and engaged him in conversation. He asked what we did at the university and we told him, “We teach teachers.” He said he had never actually met anyone who teaches teachers. He asked us to explain what we did and why.

Then he told us that he was sorry he didn’t make the most of his time in school. Kenny described himself as the class clown and the child we would not have wanted in our classroom. He admitted he wasn’t always a serious student, but did okay in high school and by his senior year he was getting his act together.

linda mission2

As he was sharing, I realized that because we were teachers he felt he needed to apologize to us for his past behaviors. Some teacher(s) must have really laid a guild trip on him, blaming him for his distractions and inattention. I stopped his apology and told him it wasn’t his fault. If he wasn’t engaged and motivated to learn, his teachers were also at fault. He was the kid. They were the grown-ups. He then shared that it was two teachers who took an interest in him and helped him turn his life around. We shared that good teachers do that. They get to know their students, take a genuine interest in their success and engage them in the learning process. That’s what we try to model to our students. That’s how we teach teachers. That’s how our teachers teach their students.

I hope my students remember me as the teacher who cared and not the one who guilted them into compliance.

I would have loved to have had Kenny in my class.

Here are five basic rules for getting to know Students and Everyone you meet.

  1. Call people by their names.
  2. Ask something about them. (Get to know them.)
  3. Be genuinely interested. Give them your full attention.
  4. Smile.
  5. Say, “Thank You!”
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