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Sunday, September 6, 2015

There is No Try

I have a long standing philosophical debate with Yoda and his famous line, "Do or do not, there is no try."

Most of the time, I think, Yoda, dude, you are so wrong. There IS a try. Try exists.

But then I think sometimes that maybe he is right. Perhaps, if we work hard enough, we can will things into being, or into becoming the way we want them. We either succeed, or we do not.

I found a great quote by Margaret Mead this week, "I learned the value of hard work by working hard."

As teachers, we always work so hard at the beginning of the year to get things off to the right start, to make sure everything is in place for the year to come--and this is even before we meet our students. There is just so much behind the scenes stuff.

 Then we meet the students.

And this is where the magic happens. This is where there is no try. You, as teachers and students, either come together to create an awesome year...or you do not. Except the "do not" is not really acceptable for me. For anyone.

So, here are some of the things that WILL happen this year in room 303:

1. My students will feel valued and cared about by their teacher.

2.Together, we will appreciate literature and literacy.

3. We will ask good questions and seek answers.

4. We will learn to love writing and help each other grow as writers.

5. We will OWN math and make it part of our lives.

6.  We will strive to learn even when we leave the classroom.

7.  We will make the school a better place because of our very presence.

For me, these are non-negotiables. There is no try--these things must happen or my very purpose is in question.

This week, I asked my students what they were curious about. One student replied, "The point of life."

Wow.

Eight years old and he already is asking one of the big ones.

This year I decided to give myself a one word teaching goal--Mindfulness. I must always keep in my mind what I am doing and why I am doing it. If what I am doing is not addressing one of my non-negotiables, then I have to ask myself some pretty tough questions. I am not a puppet of curriculum creators. My job is not to open a box (or a binder) and simply spew out lessons, fling them against the wall and hope some of the stick (like spaghetti). My job it not to scour internet sites searching for the cutest math worksheet.

My job is to be mindful. My job is to know my students. My job is to create a place where they can learn and thrive. My job is to be mindful, to use my knowledge and expertise to create the best possible learning situation. School is not only about meeting standards. It is about enriching the lives of humans, and in doing so, creating a better world.

There is no try.

hrh