Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The "C" Word

In education today, there is a lot of discussion about the four C's... collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. However, another C-word has been on my mind lately. That's the word commitment. In the last couple of weeks, there seems to be an epidemic of lack of commitment within my professional arena ranging from the professionals that I surround myself with to my students and their parents. It leads me to wonder, does commitment mean anything anymore? As teachers, what are we teaching our students about commitment? Following through? The importance of being good to your word?

Although immensely rewarding, we know that the job of an educator is difficult. It is definitely not for the weak of heart. As educators, our students are looking to us not only to lead them in the right direction for the best education that we can provide them, but they are also watching our actions. What we say; what we don't say. What we do; what we don't do. Are we teaching our students that when the going get tough, throw your hands up and walk away? Are we showing them that the behavior seen on today's reality shows is acceptable and each person has the right to trample on others regardless of their feelings, their hardwork, personal background, or life experiences? Do we play the "blame game" and not accept responsibility for our actions? I certainly hope not; the implications for the future are devastating.

Experience has taught me that for many of our impressionable students, we may be the only rational adult they encounter in their lives. When these obstacles come up (and they always do), I have found that by leading a discussion with my students, letting them draw conclusions and make lifelong applications. This is a powerful tool for them to discover the importance of these lifelong lessons. After all, we all face disappointments that we cannot control which are forced upon us by others and outside factors. What we can control, is how we react.

So when we enter our classrooms today, I encourage all of us (me included) to remember the lessons that we teach our learners that are not on our lesson plans. It is up to us to lead them towards valuing hard work, critical thinking, problem solving and staying the course regardless of how bumpy it might be. Let's teach them a lesson in commitment by staying committed to them; their future depends upon it.

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