being a teacher, being me, Dream

Before I Set Out to Change the World

I never set out to be more than a teacher , to be a speaker, an author, as someone who people ask for advice.  In fact, I still find the whole thing confounding, dumbfounded over how in the world I got so lucky to get to be inspired by so many others.  To get to teach teachers, to learn with others, and to bring those things back to the incredible students I teach at the school I call home.  And yet within this awestruck notion of being more is the truth of me; I may be many things, but the one thing I am first is the teacher to my own students.

So before I set out to change the world, I must first change the very classroom that I teach in.  I must make sure that what I say I hold so dear is not just a stepping stone for bigger things.

Before I set out to change the world, I must make sure that the very thing that has given me the courage to speak up is still the very thing that gets the best of me.  That the students, whose dreams I am trying to protect, are still the most important part.

Before I ask others to listen to the voice of their students, I must give my own students a place to speak up, to be heard, and plenty of time for them to find the words they need to share.

Before I ask others to change, I must change myself.  Reflect on my own mistakes and become better.  Reflect so I can grow and not pretend that I have all of the answers or all of the power.

Before I set out to change the world, I must make sure that the words I speak are the truth.  That what my students and I do really is making a difference for the better.   That what we say we do is really what we do and not just what we hope to do.

Before I tell others how to teach better, I must make sure I am a better teacher.  That my teaching is not a point on the to-do list, but is the thing that challenges me in the very best kind of way.  That my teaching really allows my students to be empowered, be engaged, be passionate.

Before I give others all of me, I must make sure that I have something to give to my students.  That I take the time to get their lessons right.  That I take the time to make it work for them before I share.  That I take the time to make the time to be present when I teach and not think of the world that lies beyond.  Because in our room, room 235D, I am not the teacher of the world.  I am not an author.  I am not a speaker.  I am not the creator of the Global Read Aloud.  I am the teacher of those 7th grade students that show up to English every day at Oregon Middle School.  And that is the very best thing for me.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

4 thoughts on “Before I Set Out to Change the World”

  1. And this is why we listen to you. You are who you are. You don’t try to pretend to be anything more. We need more real, kind, thoughtful people in the world. So don’t be afraid to be that person, too.

  2. Thank you Pernille. This is an eloquent reminder about priorities. Although, I do believe our schools and classrooms provide ideal launch pads for changing the world. Here’s my favorite seen from the movie, “Pay It Forward”; in which Trevor McKinney proposes his “overly utopian” PBL project.
    Thanks again for sparking thinking and discussion,

  3. I have been thinking about this. All. Day.

    I may not be facing the same “other” professional responsibilities as you are, but I find commonality in your struggle trying to serve as a teacher-leader in my district. What do we do–how do we achieve balance–when the value of our voices as leaders and advocates pulls us away from the classroom and the direct work that our students need us to do? This is what my mind is grappling with whenever it is allowed idle time.

    Thank you for this humble and honorable post.

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