Too often, we take for granted the awesome power we hold in our positions as educators. We succumb to the media’s bashing. We give in to our own self-doubts. We enable our students to live up to their undesirable self-fulfilling prophecies.
We do this all by demeaning our students with a sarcastic remark or an admonishment they don’t deserve. We do this by failing to stand up for them and defend them when others are conspiring against them. We do this by ignoring their needs because those needs make our jobs harder.
Somehow, we lose our way and students’ lives suffer because of our own indiscretions.
I try to conduct myself like I’m the last one left. It’s an egotistical mentality to have, but it helps me be better. I tell myself that there is no one left to believe in my students, no one left to fight for them, no one left to give them something positive to take home each day. If I’m the last one left, then I better treat that responsibility appropriately. If I don’t, a student’s life may be damaged forever.
Placing that responsibility on my shoulders doesn’t mean I can change their lives 1,000 % for the better. Nor does it mean that I will always win out over the other influences in their lives. Nor does it mean that I don’t frequently slip into the traps of my own failures trying to live up to these standards.
But it does remind me of the urgency we should all feel as educators.
If not us, who?