So, what single project or task do you consider to be
your most significant career accomplishment?
I read a thought-provoking article this past week about interview questions. It focused on THE one question to ask job candidates:
What single project or task would you consider
your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
At first, I thought, “Well, that’s easy to answer.” And then I had no answer. I was stumped. I kept coming back to it over the next few days. Was it my first publishing contract? Getting hired by the college? Speaking engagements around the nation? Establishing a blog? Building a YouTube channel? Mentoring students?
All of those were important steps in my calling but did they qualify as the “most significant accomplishment”?
Finally, as I replayed my teaching years, it hit me. The year was 1983. April 19, 1983 to be exact.
I was in my second year of teaching—and I had seventh grade geography students at Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville, Florida. I developed and organized a Model United Nations for approximately 340 seventh graders.
The students represented nations from around the world. They developed the topic for debate. They researched and role-played “their” nations. We had an international luncheon. Parents were on hand. We developed “Delegate Rules” and learned how to prepare a resolution. The students sent letters (yep, with real postage stamps) to embassies requesting information.
The students learned about public speaking, creative problem solving, diversity (before it became the topic of concern), research skills, peer interaction, governments, and political philosophies.
So why was it significant to me? This event hooked me on interactive teaching and learning. It taught me the importance of having supportive supervisors; they let me run with my idea; no micro-managing; they trusted me—a new teacher. I saw upfront and personal the importance of detail planning and collaboration.
And I learned that no matter how beneficial educational outcomes might be there would always be those questioning teaching motives. I actually was contacted by a then-state legislator wanting to know what the hidden agenda was with my activity! He had read a report by a conservative think tank that found activities like the Model UN to be questionable and unbalanced. I dutifully went to speak to the legislator and assured him my only hidden agenda was how to keep 340 intellectually-gifted seventh graders on-task for an entire day!
That one activity helped me, early on in my calling, to mature as a teacher and classroom leader. I did not receive any special funding nor did I receive any unique recognition. I did come to understand, though, the importance of psychic wages—the internal reward we get when our actions align with our passion and purpose. For more than 30 years, I have continued to follow my gut when developing engaging activities for my students (and audiences for professional development events). My actions become magnified (and significant) when they connect to my passion and enthusiasm. My guess is the same holds true for you.
So, what single project or task do you consider to be your most significant career accomplishment?
Video recommendation for the week:
Here is one version of the importance of passion.
Make it a wonderful week— H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.