In this 3rd part of The Conversation Series, I wrap up what I believe is the conversation we should be having right now regarding education. Recent tragedies have shed a new light upon the fact that the educational system is failing our students. We can no longer sit back and wait for lawmakers, researchers, or other stakeholders to address these issues.

In Part I, I talk about the classroom itself and the new role of the classroom, in a world where information is freely available and easily accessible. 

In Part II, I talk about our students and how they are facing serious life altering stressors, to which they have very little control over. No matter what the difficulty, every child should be seen as an opportunity for growth.

Part III is about the Teachers.

WE, The Teachers, are THE most powerful agents of change in the educational system, in the building, and in our classrooms. Yes, our calling is to help our students succeed, advance, learn, and grow. However, as the teacher in the classroom, that spends an significant amount of time with them, face to face; any improvements in their learning and growth happens through us.

THIS is the hardest lesson to understand and accept because learning involves defeat.

Learning is a process.

Learning involves screwing up and getting things wrong. Some of the greatest lessons we will learn in our lives will come from agonizing and painful failures. As a teacher and the adult in the room, we are judge and jury to the beautiful little humans before us. Everyday we find another example in which there are no set guidelines and no manual in which we can reliably depend on.

At a cost of $2.2 BILLION dollars a year in the US teachers are leaving the profession due to high stress, poor working conditions, “bad kids”, poor support, low wages, etc. 40 – 50% of new teachers leave after five years. In other words; defeat.

The emotional and psychological work that is performed by teachers on a daily basis is hardly talked about, much less recognized. Yet it is the most important in the classroom, and creates the most positive impact for our students. There isn’t a state assessment, or an ipad, or a worksheet, or a powerpoint that will significantly impact the lives of our students. It is, and will always be, the teacher.

So if teachers want less stress, better working conditions, “better kids” more support, higher wages, and not look for other work after 5 years, what needs to change isn’t a system; its us.

Teachers, yup, you. Don’t look away, i’m talking to you!

If we want this to change, we have to change. The first thing we need to change; our mindset.

Everyday, I need you… Wait.

Everyday, the world needs you to say or read the following:

“Today I will build the emotional, psychological, and educational foundation of our society. I will learn and grow with my students and fellow teachers and create the human infrastructure in which we all live and thrive in.”

Everyday.

Everyday, I need you to believe this. Not because its BS, but because its true. And if you don’t walk into your classroom, and own it, no one else will.

You are important

You are valuable

You are needed

You are critical to the success of our society and our species.

And if you walk into your classroom, everyday, and believe this with all of your heart and mind, your language and actions will follow

And when your thoughts, language, and actions are congruent (as in, they are in line with each other)

You are unstoppable.

You are a force to be reckoned with.

And when your fellow teachers are all congruent with each other, and your building is congruent with each other, and our society is congruent with each other… that’s a tidal wave of change.

The hardest lesson to learn and accept is the one we need the most. Recite this mantra, believe it, and watch the magic of the human sprit contaminate your students, as you become the rockstar I know you can be, and your students want you to be:

“Today I will build the emotional, psychological, and educational foundation of our society. I will learn and grow with my students and fellow teachers and create the human infrastructure in which we all live and thrive in, sealing every interaction with my students, with my smile”

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