The fifth belief I hold dear follows very closely on the previous one (http://tinyurl.com/7wsf6sx) that speaks to the notion of hope. It’s important for us to have dreams that are bigger than ourselves and to work towards those dreams. When I work with educators one of the questions I ask them to consider is this:
What would you try to do if you knew you would not fail?
It’s a parallel question to the one illustrated in the cartoon above and speaks to the notion that individually we limit ourselves by creating obstacles. Sometimes it is based on past experience as articulated by this Allen Glenn quote that Brian Barry (@Nunavut_Tweeter) has on the mast of his blog:
“The biggest obstacle to school change is our memories.”
Other times it is based on the brick walls we find. We start out with the intent to find out why we can’t pursue the goal. Education is littered with many convenient excuses – too little time, underfunding, too many learning outcomes, socio-economics, immigrant families, single parent to name a few- that may allow us to rationalize why we couldn’t achieve our goal. When these emerge I like to remind people of the words of Dr. Randy Pausch who said:
“The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show
how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to
stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”
Denying your own dream on the basis of any of these excuses is really a personal choice. Denying the dreams of your students is also a choice and one we should stay away from. Not every student in grade one will become what they think they want to at that time (the grade isn’t the relevant piece here) but how do we know which ones will and which ones won’t? Cody Hodgson of the Vancouver Canucks knew he would be a professional hockey player and told that to his grade one teacher Laraine Forgrave. Forgrave told Hodgson that she believed that he could play in the NHL. She also told him that if he ever did manage to reach his dream, he’d have to promise to get her tickets to a game. When the Canucks faced the Toronto Maple Leafs a month ago, Hodgson delivered with tickets for Forgrave and her husband. He also spent time with them after the game. It’s much better to help kids reach their big dreams than to snuff them out.
I believe it’s important to have goals that go beyond being checklists or tasks to accomplish. I also know I’d rather be the person who believed in someone’s potential and saw them reach their goals rather than the person who tried to talk them out of it or negatively inspired them (they reached the goal to prove you wrong). So while you pursue your own dreams, remember you also hold the power to encourage and support your students as they strive towards theirs. Dreaming big may mean it takes your entire career to accomplish the goal but just like the elephant analogy, the road to achieving the goal starts with a first step.