Success Is Not The Result Of Spontaneous Combustion. You Must Set Yourself On Fire.
~ Reggie Leach
Recently I saw a post on one of the teacher pages on Facebook, stating that 55% of teachers would resign from the profession if they could. Do you maybe fall in this 55%? Maybe you are part of the 45% of teachers who would never dream of doing anything else. But what is wrong in this profession that so many teachers would like to pack up and go?
Lately, in South Africa and around the world, the teaching profession has been run down and pulled apart as a “lazy person’s job” – a half day job for those who “can’t do”. Just the other day, I heard this saying in one of the movies I watched with my husband: “Those who can’t do, teach.” What utter nonsense only said by people who cannot begin to understand how passion for people draw teachers to the profession in the first place. Well, for most teachers, I believe it’s the reason: A PASSION FOR PEOPLE!
I’m not a school teacher and I’ve never worked in the school environment, but I know that being a teacher is so much more than just a half day job! In fact, I’m yet to meet the teacher that work half-a-day any day! Most teachers I’ve met, take stacks of work home for the evening, as they have a whole list of other activities to attend to with the kids in the afternoons and then they have to prepare and go through all their lessons for the next day as well. So let me be clear to all the people pointing fingers at all the “half day teachers” – it’s never a half day job. Funny that spouses of teachers never say their spouses have half day jobs… In fact, many teachers are getting divorced nowadays, because their spouses don’t want to play second fiddle to the kids (and they shouldn’t…). Teachers work hard while getting little respect from parents and children.
Now this letter is meant to uplift teachers and I would like to speak to all – whether you are in the 55% or 45% category. I want to have a heart-to-heart talk with you that starts with a question:
On a scale of 1-10, where is your TEACHING-PASSION at the moment?
Out of all the reasons we could have for doing something, PASSION is without a doubt the biggest difference maker. Two teachers side-by-side, same amount years experience, same school, same subject, same everything, could not be more different if one has passion and the other one has none! In fact, everything will be different just because of this one small difference – their passion level! One will be excited to get out of bed in the morning. The other will hate waking up. One will look forward to the day and every period, while the other will only look forward to weekends and school holidays. The biggest difference, however, will show up in the kids’ results – which was proven by a teacher!!
In the beginning of the year I wrote my first letter to teachers, called “I am a TEACHER” (“Ek is ‘n ‘TEACHER’”), and within a few weeks this letter went world-wide and the response was overwhelming. The best response I received, came at the end of the first term:
“After reading the letter you wrote to teachers in the beginning of the year, I was highly motivated… I’m a teacher at a school in a settlement and I’ve given up hope. I teach math to grade 8’s, but they all believed it’s too difficult to understand. My annual pass rate was 30% for the past 6 years and those who passed, barely passed.
In the first test of the year my kids had a 28% pass rate. After reading your letter I decided to do more, learn from other teachers, design plans of my own and do everything in my power to help this year’s grade 8’s pass math. My hard work paid off and at the end of the first term I had a pass rate of 88% with 20 distinctions! For the first time in 6 years I can honestly say that I am proud of the kids – all of them!
Thank you. Your letter changed me.
What an amazing result! What made the difference? Yes, the letter was motivating, but a letter can’t change 30% to 88% PLUS 20 distinctions! Did the kids change? Not immediately. Only one person changed! The teacher changed! She made the difference that changed the kids and their future!
If she can do it in her school, what’s stopping you? Could this be something you can do to change your results? I believe it with all my heart! If we want to change our results in any area of our lives, we need to change ourselves first. Unless you as the teacher decide to change, your results will never change. Think about it, we’ve heard it a hundred times: people do the same things with the same people in the same way, expecting different results.
Understandably the lack of respect, lack of discipline, lack of self-motivation, laziness of kids and in some cases, terrible working conditions, have caused our teachers to become greatly demotivated and passionless. We can blame all these things for our results. We can blame the kids, the parents, the principals or the government, but blame won’t change a thing. All of these might be a reality in your life, but you can change it. History is filled with names of remarkable people who brought about change in some of the worst circumstances ever.
So where do you start? The only place I believe you can start is between your own two ears…
CHANGE YOUR MIND!
I’m a believer and I love the verse Romans 12:2 that says: “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” These words are true – your entire life will be transformed if you renew your mind. Maybe you are stuck in a rut and it’s been years since you’ve seen any change in your own life. How could you change? What should you change about your mind? (You’re asking great questions, so let me attempt to answer it with more questions!!)
- What do you believe about your own ability as a teacher?
- Are you able to teach for life-change?
- Are you able to take kids, who no one believes in, and believe in them?
- Are you willing to sacrifice your comfort zone and do more?
- Are you willing to look at those kids in your class as people who need you to help them change?
- Can you love your students?
Your career should never be a ball and chain around your neck. If this is how you feel, change your mind! You are literally imprisoned by your own disbelieve in your abilities to bring about change! You can do this! You have awesome talents, a love for people (that maybe cooled down a bit) and the amazing ability to take content and bring it to life! It all starts with one thing: raising your passion level once again!
LOVE YOUR STUDENTS! Give yourself unselfishly, to see them succeed! Do more. Be more. Give more. Don’t ever stop. Will it be hard work? Off course! But you are a teacher anyway. Why not be the best you can be? You can be the teacher that kids come back to time and time again and say “Thank you for believing in me!”.
I had the privilege of meeting another great principal, Mr. Toy Human, a few weeks ago and sitting in his office I will never forget the moment he looked at me and said: “The greatest moment for me as a teacher is when kids come back and tell me that just one thing I said changed everything for them.”. He got emotional as his passion for children and teens overwhelmed him in that moment!
Light the fire of your own passion again! Go back to the moment you knew you were born to teach. Grab a hold of your vision for your life and then change kids’ lives! You can do this. Make this your best year. Change your mind, ignite your passion and change the future of your country and its people!
“I Will Lay My Head Down On My Pillow Each Night Happily Exhausted, Knowing That I Have Done Everything Within My Power To Move The Mountains That Are In My Path!”
– Andy Andrews –
“Don’t Teach As If The Kids’ Results Are Just Their Own Results. Teach As If The Kids’ Results Are Your Results, Because They Are.”
– Debbie De Jager –
Please leave me a comment on your thoughts and ideas that others can learn from as well. The only way we can start making a difference in our schools, is by doing something about it.
If there is anything I can do to help you and your team succeed – whether you are a teacher or in the corporate environment – please do not hesitate to contact me.
Be sure to read my other letters to teachers, parents and leaders.