Unshakeable - Day 9

20 ways to enjoy teaching...No matter what!

#9 - Let your vision define your value and measure of success

Find a few moments to reconnect with the reason you entered this profession

These days we are under constant attack from the media and the general public. We seem to have to defend ourselves as knowledgeable, competent professionals worthy of respect. Our value seems to center on students’ academic achievement on standardized tests.

“…defining our value in relation to measurable learning outcomes will eventually strip us of all autonomy.”

"If the focus is solely on getting kids to pass standardized tests, then why not standardize the instruction? Why do we need creative, innovative, passionate educators if we’re not trying to produce creative, innovative, passionate students?”

The real reason why you are invaluable

We need to articulate the things we do daily that aren’t measured by tests:

  • Teach students to be open-minded as they collaborate and negotiate
  • Foster empathy, compassion, and an urgent sense of social justice
  • Model and demonstrate the value of hope, optimism, and risk taking
  • Instill a strong work ethic so kids develop initiative and perseverance
  • Provide opportunities for creativity and ingenuity
  • Guide students to invent, use their imaginations, and find new solutions to real problems
  • Help kids discover and follow their interests and passions

These are life skills - not just “21st century skills”

We aren’t going to get overwhelming support for these traits - naysayers will continue to insist that the traits aren’t quantifiable nor testable.

When $ are the bottom line, leaders will find a reason to treat education like an assembly line producing products.

How do we demonstrate that we are the essential force in a school’s ability to inspire not tests.

Your worth cannot be defined by test scores

Scores can never define your value as a teacher. It doesn’t come from someone else’s approval. Define success for yourself. This means I have to be self-reflective or I will constantly look to others for approval and to define how I am doing.

You cannot simply “do your best”

No one goes into the classroom and does their best every. single. day.

Some days you’re tired or distracted. ““Your best” is good enough, but it’s never going to feel like it’s good enough.”

If you define success as doing your best every day, then you will feel like you are on a treadmill and can’t get off- yup, that’s me in a nutshell.

There’s only one way to feel a real sense of accomplishment in your work and be unswayed by outsiders who try to define your success by numbers and data: you must have a personal vision for teaching, and work toward it with a single-minded focus.

Create a clear vision for your teaching

"…please don’t step foot into your classroom one more day until you’ve given some thought to your vision. If you can’t make time in your schedule to sit down and think, do it while you exercise, drive, cook, shower… whenever! Find a few moments to reconnect with the reason you entered this profession.”

Questions to ask myself: Why do I teach? What gives me a sense of accomplishment? What really matters?

Use your vision as your personal definition of success

post it, revisit it, allow it to change, reconnect with your vision on a regular basis.

Return to it whenever you are discouraged or feel defined by outside sources.

We aren’t just teaching students to tie their shoes or put their names on their papers, we are giving students hope every day!

Increase your energy level by tapping into your vision

“Our willingness and ability to expend time and energy increases exponentially when we have a clear vision for what we’re doing."

Don’t depend on other people for recognition


We don’t parent for recognition - nor tie our self-worth as a parent to that recognition. We can’t in our jobs either. If your sense of accomplishment (or self-worth) is based on back pats, teaching will be very unrewarding to you.

"I have seen many teachers become completely disillusioned through dwelling on the lack of appreciation they receive. They complain constantly that no one recognizes their hard work or says thank you. Their bitterness toward parents and students who they perceive as unappreciative becomes a poison which sucks the life out of their teaching. Every task becomes pointless in their minds because “no one’s going to appreciate it, anyway.”

I can’t base my happiness on being appreciated by someone else even though it is occasionally nice to hear. Reflect, and recognize my own work - set goals, reward myself. Build my own PLC. Return to my vision

Create a shared vision with your students

This is interesting. Students get bogged down, too. “what do you hope to accomplish and experience each day?”

- thinking about what I have learned about people in poverty and not having a future story, would this question help them learn to think in a future way - with a growth mindset?

Some examples from the author:

  • We will learn together and help each other become the best people we can be.
  • We will work hard, challenge ourselves and each other, and support one another.
  • We will work together to create a safe and kind community of learners.
  • We will respect each other, work diligently, and show enthusiasm for learning.
  • We will excel in all we do with compassion and integrity.
  • We will have fun working together and never give up on ourselves or each other.
  • We will strive to become independent, responsible, lifelong learners.

When students make strides, draw attention to how their choices have brought the vision to reality.

We have a bigger purpose here than just this one frustration moment!

Believe deeply that you are making a difference, even when you can’t see it

There is NO SUCH THING as a hopeless case!

There is very little immediate gratification in our work, learn to live with that!

"Teaching is the sowing of seeds. You don’t always get a short term reward, but you leave a legacy. You have a choice about what that legacy will be.”