what will be your legacy?

Today’s Afternoon Pages prompt comes to you courtesy of Taylor, Rachel, Brooke, and Meg, as follows:

The journey to becoming a teacher is a long one. Along the way, we are posed with many questions about who we want to be as a teacher. How would you want your students to think back on their experiences in your classroom? How do you want to be viewed in the classroom? What will be your legacy?

I recently listened to a podcast, which I highly recommend, called “The Greater Good Project.” It’s connected with the Greater Good research center out of Stanford, who has all kinds of resources, many of them focused on mindfulness practices.

In the podcast, a young woman in her 20s talked about writing a “rubric” for her life. DID YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID? A rubric for her life so that she could measure how she was living up to her own expectations. I can only imagine the descriptors: “I am ‘partially proficient’ in maintaining close relationships.” She said it helped. I find it mildly horrifying.

But it did make me think about mission statements. Yes, mission statements. If you’ve ever had to participate in the process of writing one, you’re probably moaning and groaning by now because they can become so vague as to be meaningless. But what if we wrote our own personal mission statements to guide our teaching, to guide the way we work with students on a face-to-face basis? What if that’s what shaped the legacy we might leave behind?

Most mission statements are short and pithy, but I only have time to write a long one.

My mission is to really listen to my students, to really see them. I want to celebrate who they are right now and to help them (and myself) be here in this moment, expending our life energy to learn together. I want to help them get better than they think they can be. My mission is to help students learn how to plan a lesson, but also to think about the frame surrounding it. I want to help them consider how the work they do every day with students and colleagues has the potential to help all of us read, critique, rewrite and therefore eventually change the world.



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