Friday, April 8, 2016

Encouragement in Education

   Take a look at this graphic.
It deals with such an obvious concept, I'm guessing some may view it as a bit "small-minded".
   However you see it, sometimes it's the most obvious things that we tend to miss or overlook. Or, maybe, they just get pushed behind other important ideas. Or, most likely, maybe we just need to hear it once in a while as a reminder.
   I'm positive that I understood Zig Ziglar's idea from very early in life, and it's probably why I wanted to become a teacher.  The fact that when encouraging others "you in the process are encouraged" is so very powerful.  And, that it's "because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life" is the reason it's so powerful.
   I've been teaching almost my entire life.  As a young teenager it was guitar, tennis and horsemanship lessons. When I needed to make a decision on a career path, it seemed completely natural that my path would be teaching.  As it turns out, I've spent my career first in the math classroom (with some volleyball and track coaching sprinkled in) and then in the computer lab.  To wind it down, I'm now spending a majority of my time teaching teachers, which really seems like a perfectly balanced way to complete the process.
   A very important thing that I've learned is that I, too, need encouragement.  And when there was no other source for that, the encouragement came from the process of encouraging others.  As I look now from a wider perspective I recognize the absolutely crucial need for encouragement in education.  And, it's not just the obvious teacher:student encouragement.  Also essential is inspiring and cultivating a classroom filled with student:student encouragement.  And, beyond that teacher:teacher, admin:teacher, and admin:admin.
   Without a doubt the height each teacher reaches professionally is impacted by the level of encouragement received.  I'm talking about sincere encouragement of things such as the great "wins" we have when our lesson hits the mark and every student is "leaning in".  We can do this for each other (thankfully, it happens quite consistently via personal learning networks, particularly Twitter, Voxer, and Google+).  And, in case there are any administrators reading this, I truly believe it is one of the most crucial tasks on every administrator's plate - to invest in your teachers through encouragement.  Based on my experience, I do not think most administrators see this as their role, but I would contend that it is possibly their most crucial role and the one that has the potential to pay the greatest dividends.
   I do not think education is any different than any other field (everyone needs encouragement no matter the job), but, perhaps it is because teachers spend so much time and effort encouraging others, that sometimes I think we forget that the teacher needs encouragement, too.  Whether you are a teacher, a parent, an administrator, or a student, how about giving that teacher near you some heartfelt encouragement once in a while?  You'll be encouraged, too!



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