Persistence. Grit. Resilience. The words we use with our students. The traits we tell them that they MUST have. But do we exemplify those very traits FOR our kids?
I know, I know. Teaching is difficult. We face more pressure from more directions than anyone outside the profession could ever know. The fact that we remain seems to indicate that we have those traits, and it does take a certain level of...stubborn nature... in order to remain.
I must persist with the individual kids in my room, even when it seems fruitless. I have to keep book talking and putting titles in front of students. I must stop them in the halls to tell them about a book. I must ask them in future years, once they've left me, even if they didn't become readers with me, about their reading lives. I can never, ever, ever, throw up my hands and say "Some people will just never become readers," and attempt to coerce or bribe those kids into reading.
We all have to develop the grit to stand up to bad practices. I keep reading the thoughts of people who write "I know there are problems with AR (or other programs), but I have to use it," or "I know there are problems with it, but it works for my kids." Do we want our students to sit back and watch bad things happen, or do we want them to develop the grit to stand up and face down injustices? If we want a society that speaks out, that takes a stand, WE have to model that behavior. WE have to be willing to be uncomfortable, to have difficult conversations with colleagues and administrators. We cannot meekly subject our students to bad practices and then expect the society that WE EDUCATED to value education and support our schools.
We want the kids to learn to question, to become critical thinkers. But how often do we REALLY question what is happening in education? I don't mean our grumbling to each other; I mean actual conversations with the people who make the policies. Conversations about the research that should drive the policies and drive our practices. We must develop the resilience to stand in the face of those who don't want to listen; we must keep talking to them.
I've made the move to talking to my students about the research that drives my instruction. The kids HAVE to know why we're doing what we do. If I can't explain the "why" and reference the research that supports it, then I have no business teaching it.