How Your Personal Legend can Improve Your Teaching
A friend of mine recommended that I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I was embarrassed to say that I’d had a copy of the book for years and had not looked at it. I had skimmed a few pages and wasn’t really drawn in so I placed it into a box with some of my other books and forgot about it. I trust this friend and value her opinion about things so I dug the book out and took another swing at it. I’m happy to say that I’m glad I did.
One of the main ideas of the book is the Personal Legend of Santiago. One needs to understand that your personal legend involves what you decide to do with your life. What do you want your life to look like? Who do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered?Will you look back on your life with regret or fond memories? This got me thinking about my own personal legend. Teaching is referred to as a noble profession. It’s a running joke that those who become teachers do not enter into it for the money. I myself chose to be a teacher because I wanted to help others and work with children.
Teaching is my second career. This meant I had to go back to school, take additional classes, and pass the licensure tests for my state in order to make it happen. Initially, I was convinced I wanted to be an early childhood teacher for kindergartners. I was able to get a job as a substitute teacher and quickly realized how much I enjoyed working with children with exceptionalities.
Paul Coelho wrote about how there are four obstacles that can keep someone from following their Legend. As a young child we can have visions of grandeur. I wanted to be a singing astronaut when I was young. People would let me know you could maybe do one or the other but you needed to be practical. Fortunately, I came from a family of people who followed their Personal Legends. My father and brothers embarked on fulfilling careers in the music industry so I saw first hand how one can successfully follow their Personal Legend. We can not let fear of what others feel is impossible stop us. We must proceed in love. We can not let the fear of defeat get in our way. Lastly, realizing what our dream is.
How does this first obstacle translate to improving your teaching? As an educator you need to approach each new class and school year with a fresh perspective. You must believe in the impossible as you embark on increasing the academic success of your students. Teachers fight against the impossible everyday in their classrooms. Trying to increase test scores, help students regulate their behavior, and many times working closely with families. We have to make sure we are not allowing our own biases to influence our thoughts on how we can help our students.
The second obstacle of love is crystal clear. We need to have love for the profession of teaching. As mentioned before those who really commit to a life of service as an educator, must have a love for the profession. You do not enter this field with the dream of becoming a millionaire. You genuinely have a love of working with children, academic subject matter, or a combination of the two. It is important to also have a support system of those who can love and support you as you follow your Personal Legend. Knowing you have the support and love of others can help you stay focused on being the best teacher you can possibly be.
For those of us already in the classroom, we know how rewarding it can be when you have assisted a student in grasping a concept. But what about those days when you go home feeling extremely defeated. The best part of the third obstacle, fear of defeat, is that it forces us to reflect on how we can be better the next class or school day. We can reflect on what new methods we can use to help a student progress academically or behaviorally. Being able to roll with the punches and still maintain a positive outlook can make the most of our path to following our Personal Legend.
Ultimately, we find we are our own worst enemy when it comes to achieving goals of any kind. Achieving your Personal Legend is no different. Think about what you want to achieve as an educator. I have become an educator which was one part of my Personal Legend. Now I work on being the best educator I can possibly be. My point is that you must keep going and expanding to the next level. Do not be afraid to spread your influence to students outside of your classroom. How, Kandice is what you may be asking. That worksheet you created can be sold on Teachers Pay Teachers. That new research you have read about could be shared with your colleagues in a professional development session. Or you can present at a professional conference. You are the person in charge of the path on your way to your Personal Legend.
I’m interested to know about your Personal Legend. Please feel free to share in the comments!