The above link is something I normally wouldn’t advertise, but there’s something about it that makes a great point. I admit that I am reluctant to self-promote, but since this blog is completely dedicated to that very notion, I suppose I can swallow it and make a statement out of it.
Tom Krieglstein is an amazing individual, and I highly recommend you check out his site, Swift Kick. He’s passionate about student engagement and facilitating student growth and development. At the 2015 Rutgers Mark Conference, Tom was one of the speakers who really spoke to me. Yet what was even more reMARKable (I’m sorry, but I had to throw that pun in there) was that a few days after the conference he reached out to me. Tom told he had been interested and inspired by my talk and wanted to get my information out on Swift Kick.
I was hesitant at first, but Tom walked me through his questions and told me he truly was dedicated to sharing my story with those who most needed it.
At the end of the day, my story is my own. If you’ve been looking at my blog (which I admit very few people do) then you are fully aware of my story and my struggles. Dealing with my diagnosis is something that has inspired me to help others. No one deserves to feel alone or unloved, and teachers have a particular role in facilitating that sense of belonging.
Fresh starts may not happen alone, but sometimes that one lonely individual CAN bring about incredible change. So, what’s your mark going to be?
An unusual thing happened to me today as I checked out Twitter feed. I’m normally critical of trending hashtags, especially considering the fact that they usually pertain to celebrities and banal topics. But my eyes ended up passing over #IWishMyTeacherKnew.
And when I viewed those tweets, my heart broke.
Kids confessing their family problems. Kids admitting to learning disabilities they had been ashamed of. Kids opening up to financial difficulties that hindered their ability to do homework.
It takes a great deal of courage to own up to one’s struggles and difficulties, even more difficult to confess them to another human being. It reveals a great deal of trust in one’s teacher to confess such issues.
In the end, I would like to imagine a world in which every teacher is able to craft such a personal relationship with their students. THAT type of environment, one in which shame is replaced with a support system that is uplifting to students. Teaching does not just involve course materials and abstract concepts. Teaching is a fully immersive experience, something that brings the experiences and struggles of students into the classroom to build upon or combat.
Truth be told, I wish my teacher knew how much of a role model and influence she has been in my life. I wish my teacher knew that she is the reason I came to Rutgers, that I became an RA and Orientation Leader, that I applied and was accepted to grad school to replicate her methods for generations of students.
I wish my teacher knew just how much she has meant to me.
In the end, I really do believe she knew. And that’s the best we can hope for, right?
In most of my classes, the idea of student development is intricately linked to one’s effectiveness as an instructor. Students are expected to grow and learn over time, but this is not just limited to one’s intellectual progress. Personal growth is important as well. As an RA, I have seen this take place with my residents over the past seven months, but the biggest observation I can make is involved with my own development.
It’s been two years exactly since this photo was taken. At the time, I was 18 and had only recently accepted my role as an Orientation Leader with Rutgers. I had thought it would just be a way to make some money, get some experience, etc. All about adding to that resume, you know? But I had no idea what a wild ride I was about to be on. Becoming an Orientation Leader was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The friends I made and the lessons I’ve learned will stick with me for the rest of my life.
You want to talk about development? I finally had a degree of self-confidence, a sense that I had something to offer others. I felt supported by a network of student leaders who cared and wanted to inspire just like I did. I was able to come out of my shell and advocate not only for myself, but for others as well.
Yes, I still doubted myself. Yes, at times I still felt alone. But becoming an Orientation Leader at last offered me a chance to emerge from the shell I created for myself years ago. It forced me to be challenged in ways I never could have imagined, culminating in me reevaluating how I perceive my surroundings and those around me. It’s the reason I am the man that I am today.
For students, growth comes through struggle and conflict. It is hard, and they have to bear the bulk of it on their own backs. But the greatest teachers don’t necessarily carry that burden for them, but rather inspire them with the belief that it IS possible to bear it. I’ve had bosses, supervisors, and teachers in my life who have done just that for me.
Here’s hoping I can do the same for my future students.
I’ve decided to begin periodically doing a segment titled, “This Day in History”. While it is by no means original, hopefully all you at home will find it extremely beneficial to recognize the importance each day has had across generations.
So today, April 4th:
- 1865: Abraham Lincoln records a dream he has about being assassinated
- 1928: Maya Angelou, poet and literary genius, is born
- 1949: The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Pact is signed in response to the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact
- 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated at the age of 39
So the very essence of this blog is to promote my desire to be an educator. I have my philosophy, my proposals, my arguments. And yet there seems to be a disconnect. I find it difficult to better express myself. So rather than focus on expressing myself through written word, why not hear it from me personally?