One of the greatest joys of teaching is learning from my students. Their perspectives, life views, and ways of rationalizing situations sometimes baffles me. The saying is true that students are not things to be molded, but people to be unfolded. Yesterday was the official first day of school. As I stood in front of the “edgy-eighth graders”, I began to wonder what specifically lay ahead for me on this 10-month journey. For the past eleven years I have taught high school English. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE teaching high school, particularly the 9th & 10th grade. But over the years, I have noticed that there is a disconnect with the content knowledge students have gained in the 8th grade to successfully prepare them for the 9th grade. After praying much about this I decided to do some real life investigating to identify the missing link(s).
With it being the first day of school, naturally I had the students introduce themselves. In addition, I also asked students to tell me what they wanted to do with their lives and why. After absolutely no volunteers, I called on the first student that made eye contact with me. As she stood, she looked nervously around the room before responding. “My name is *Jessie* and I want to be a surgeon.” I could tell by the way she slowly sank back down into her chair that it wasn’t what she really wanted to do. At the conclusion of the class, she confessed to only pursuing this career option because she wants to make her parents happy. In reality, she wants to be a dancer. My advice was to never disrespect her parents, but to always follow her dreams.
I replayed the scenario over in my mind again and again. It got me to thinking. How many of us are allowing others to write our life narratives? No matter what decisions you make in life there will always be someone who believes that their opinion should be your reality. Regardless of their desires for you, keep moving the pen. I didn’t receive as much support as I would have liked from my colleagues upon announcing my transition to a lower grade level, but the story doesn’t end based on the beliefs of others. At the end of the day, it’s important to take control of your life narrative and understand that opinions aren’t facts. Keep writing with your pen…not someone else’s.
The old adage is true. YOUR life is YOUR story. Write well. Edit often.
By Dr. Avis Foley
Co-Publisher, Purpose Weekly