Sunday, November 3, 2013

Make your Mess your Message

     I would not say I was your perfect child growing up nor would I say I was your worst.  Did I reach my full potential?  I think most of us are lead to say no to this question and even as adults we are still challenged to answer this one with 100% accuracy.  I think this is good though, because we should always strive to improve; trying to get better every minute of every day.  It reminds me of a quote by Jon Gruden, "You never stay the same. You either get better or you get worse."

     I would not say my life is, or ever has been, a mess, but the bumps in my road have lead me to where I am today.  There are points in everyone’s journey where they must decide to forge on, or turn around and head back to comfort and safety.  The thing I have learned the most is, the most successful people have bumps in their journey and would have never reached their potential without taking the road less traveled. 

     Well, that is what I did as an eighth grader, took the road less traveled.  To make a long story short, I spent almost one fourth of my year in ISS (In School Suspension).  Why?  As I look back, I cannot tell you why.  Did my teachers not create environments that harbored my creativity?  Did my school not provide the services I needed to be successful?  I would say no to all of the speculations, but I would say I lacked relationships with my teachers the most.   

     That year pretty much labeled me for the remainder of my high school career.  I am sure teachers saw my name on their class roster and the fear and panacea set in; oh no, not that kid!   You see I didn’t use my freshman year to change my image either though; at least academically.   I was that student, the one who’s potential went through the roof, but my effort and attention was focused on everything besides school and its requirements.  

     At this point in my life I needed to answer some questions; how did I want people to remember me?  Was my future destroyed because of my past?  Had my poor choices ended my path to future success?  I will have to thank my oldest brother and his struggles, because these have helped shape and nurture my decisions more than he could ever imagine. 
     From that point of my life to where I am today, I have used my past and my brother’s experiences to drive my pursuit of excellence.  My goals, then and now, are to prove all those that did not believe in me wrong.   I enjoy returning to the town where I grew up and informing the naysayers that I am now a school administrator and watching their reaction.   I was labeled as a young student and my passion to this day is to prove that label inaccurate.   I would say, quoting Robin Roberts, “I have made my mess my message.” 

     My advice to teachers:
·         Encourage those that struggle to continue to set and pursue goals.  
·         Mistakes will happen all through your life; learn from them and become a better person.
·         Avoid labeling students based on their past and look for the good in everyone. 
·         Every person has a story; take time to listen to it.
·         Remember it is not about you…it is about the students.
·         Always do what is in the best interest of students.
·         Continually ask yourself the question; would you want to be a student in your own classroom?
o   Thanks Erin Klein (@KleinErin)
·         Take time to do something you enjoy.
·         Read the book “Teach Like a Pirate!” by Dave Burgess (@burgessdave)

     This is the time of year where we need to rekindle our fire so that our passion to impact students continues to burn bright.  Please take time and remind yourself of why you chose to become involved in education.