I have the chance to be a small part of their collective journeys.
This is not a drill. It’s real life. Their lives.
And after 32 years, my students continue to inspire me.
This week I began my 32nd year of classroom teaching.
I have had people wonder how I can stay fresh going into my 63rd semester. While it is true that syllabi development, essay grading, administrivia, and mind-numbing meetings can be trying and frustrating adventures, something deeper strikes at the heart of why I do what I do. In many respects, I have the best calling in the world. Every day I have the opportunity to connect with people and to make a difference in their lives.
Each semester a fresh group of students walks on campus chasing their dreams. Some have a laser-focus on where they want to be; others are not quite so sure. But all know they want to be at a better place in their lives. They want something more and I have the opportunity to help them bring those rainbows into their kaleidoscopic focus. I have the chance to be a small part of their collective journeys. And that is a privilege and a responsibility I do not take lightly. This is not a drill. It’s real life. Their lives.
Recognizing that the long-term must pass through the short-term, I asked my students to complete the following sentence on the first day of class: By the end of this semester I will _________________.
While a number of students opted for the grade-focused response of getting all “As” (and there is nothing wrong with that), the vast majority identified goals that touched the various dimensions of their lives. I have listed some of their responses (in no particular order) below. As I read each, I am reminded that we all have basic goals involving health, relationships, occupation (our calling), and emotional well-being. How many of these would you be able to include on your short-term list?
- Have the will to be successful
- Lose 15 lbs
- Have a job
- Have a different job
- Have a job promotion
- Be more organized
- Have a solid relationship
- Be eating healthier
- Not procrastinate
- Establish an exercise routine
- Prove to family and friends I can do well
- Have saved money
- Be a step closer to my dreams
- Have learned what it takes to be successful in college
- Be more independent
- Grown as a person
- Go to New York for my birthday
- Complete repairs on a house I just purchased
- Have saved at least $2,000
- Have a body fat percentage down to 12%
- Be living on my own
- Have my own vehicle
- Continue to research different careers
- Do community service
- Have developed confidence
- Be able to speak in front of others
- Be on time
- Have grown my vocabulary
- Have an idea of what goes on in the real world
- Take more responsibility for my life
- Have a better life for me and my family
- Have improved my study skills
- Have managed my priorities
- Have learned about life choices
- Have learned how to stay focused
- Have learned more about myself
We discussed how setting a goal is the easy part. The work comes with goal achieving. Dreams. Action. Reality. Think of your dreams—and your actions (or inactions). What is your reality?
Video recommendation for the week:
(If the above link does not work on your device, click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV-qNV0Snck.)
It is very easy to become jaded in any job. No matter what we do for our “living” we can lose sight of why we do what we do (beyond earning a buck). For me, I am invited in and become a small part of the lives of my students. We influence one another. I hope to inspire them.
And after 32 years, I know they continue to inspire me.
Choose well. Live well. Be well—and H.T.R.B. as needed!
On Friday, September 13, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: Supporting Our Adjunct Faculty: The Forgotten Teachers of Academia. Take advantage of this complementary offering. Click here to register now for the webinar. Or go to my website for registration information.
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©2013. Steve Piscitelli