Clarity of Mission

by Brooke Schulte Olivieri

We believe that teaching is not just a job… it is a way of life.  It is a noble profession with the potential to do endless good for others.  The power and opportunity to do so much good can be intoxicating for teachers which highlights their virtuous character.  For many of us, teaching mirrors mission work where one lives and breathes their work—spending endless hours around their classrooms, students and skillset. 

Early on, many of us have realized that there is endless challenge, opportunity and moments that inspire.  As we develop our skillsets we also acknowledge that no matter how talented we become, there will always be ways to improve, refine our craft, and better meet the diverse needs of our students.  Teaching in a Title I school further guarantees that no matter how many students we learn to manage, there are always students who put us “back on the learning curve.”  We are proud of the fact that some of the most intelligent and giving people become teachers.  We also acknowledge with a little laugh that when a teacher decides to walk onto the campus of a Title I school, they are beginning one of the greatest quests and learning experiences of their lives!

To delve even deeper, we need to ask ourselves deeper questions, such as… Why am I working so hard?  Am I looking for gratitude and a pat on the back from an outside source?  Are my intentions pure?  Do I give my job “my all” simply for the purpose of helping and educating my students because… this is what they deserve?  Or do I feel like I am doing them a favor by teaching them in this neighborhood when I could go somewhere else?  Am I here because I want to be?  Am I taking the time to recognize what my students give back to me?  Am I engaging in self-pity?  Do I need adulation and praise to continue teaching?  Or do I look for “hidden sources of gratitude”?  Hidden sources of gratitude could include…

  • Your students enter your classroom with a smile in anticipation of the new day in your classroom.
  • A child is deeply engaged in a book or novel you introduced them to.
  • A child with poor attendance improves their attendance because they look forward to coming to your class.
  • Colleagues recommend your class to parents or students.

Be clear about your mission.  You are not a martyr.  You are not being abused by the system or the students.  No one can hurt you but yourself.  Embrace this opportunity to be enthused with a mission in life!  Live a symbiotic existence!  The people that you meet along the way have gifts to give you that will help you in your evolution to become the strongest most empowered person you can be.  Be open to learning from your students.  They will make you into a more evolved person if you embrace them and the opportunity to teach them.  Your life will be richer because of the inspirational people that you will meet, and the students that you will guide, educate and empower. 

Our mission is clarified in the following five statements:

  • We are here to ensure that every one of our students receive a high quality education regardless of their personal demographic or challenges.
  • We recognize that working in a Title I school is very challenging and is often more mission work than a job.
  • We value our ability to help others and recognize that our ability to do so is part of our personal wealth.
  • We recognize that we will always be on the “learning curve” and are confident and strong enough to engage in reflective practice to further refine our skills.
  • We are open to learning from our students.  They will make us into a more evolved person if we embrace them and the opportunity to teach them.

Copyright © 2013 Light Education, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

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