Teach & Serve II, No. 1 – Teach Boldly

Teach & Serve II, No. 1 – Teach Boldly

August 10, 2016

…you have the opportunity, the responsibility to do more and be more. You can animate. You can inspire. You can engage.

The beginning of the beginning is ramping up in schools all over the country. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a teacher or administrator knee deep in preparation, cross checking lists of all that needs doing in these opening days and preparing for these early moments of 2016-2017 as best you can.

May I please make a suggestion? No matter what you do in these initial days, no matter the pressure you feel, the demands you take on, the time crunch you suffer, no matter what you do in these days, do it with as much positivity as you can. Go about your work with energy. Greet students and colleagues and families with smiles. Celebrate the beginning of the year. Be bold in your embrace of all the possibilities it brings.

BoldLet boldness be your home base this year.

Teach boldly. Administrate boldly. Coach and direct boldly.

Let that be your rallying cry: teach boldly.

Students respond to boldness. Colleagues are searching for it. We hear that schools should inspire. They should challenge. They should dare. How do these things happen if we ourselves are not bold in our individual rooms and days and works?

Shouldn’t we want to be bold? Wouldn’t we rather be bold than be… well, what’s the alternative? Timid? Reticent? Fearful?

Those aren’t the descriptors for which our work in education calls. None of them are even close.

Be Bold. Be resolute. Be heroic.

Teachers, your students want to be engaged. Inspire them. Be bold.

Your colleagues want to hear what you have to say. Engage them. Be bold.

Administrators, your staffs want to be led. Animate them. Be bold.

Make this year a year for boldness, for courage, for fearlessness.

Your students, colleagues and staffs need this from you. They hurry from class-to-class, assignment-to-assignment, meeting-to-meeting and running that gauntlet is both daunting and draining. When they come to you, when it’s your class, your assignment, your meeting, you can give them what they’ve come to expect, most often a kind of dull proficiency. You can give them reserved professionalism. You can give them cautious platitudes. They won’t be shocked if you do. They’ve seen this before; they know how to respond.

But you have the opportunity, the responsibility to do more and be more. You can animate. You can inspire. You can engage. While they may not know it, your students, colleagues and staffs are thirsting for this. They are thirsty for boldness.

Teach boldly. At the end of the day – at that end of the year – teaching boldly may be the only kind of teaching that truly matters.

Teach & Serve No. 1 – “I Am A Teacher”

Teach & Serve 

No. 1 * August 4, 2015

I Am a Teacher

If we considered the many roles are called on to play, the many aspects of the work before us, the many groups we’re called to serve – if we considered all of this before we entered the profession, it’s possible we’d have chosen another path for our lives. But we didn’t. Be we counselors or coaches, teacher or administrators, staff members or librarians, we are all teachers and our lives are better for the pursuit.

I was born the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth of a child.  I have been many people in many places.  I am Socrates exciting the youth of Athens to discover new ideas through the use of questions.  I am Anne Sullivan tapping out the secrets of the universe into the outstretched hand of Helen Keller.  I am Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen revealing truth through countless stories.  I am Marva Collins fighting for every child’s right to an education.  I am Mary McCleod Bethune building a great college for my people.  And I am Bel Kaufman struggling to go Up the Down Staircase.

The names of those who have practiced my profession ring like a hall of fame for humanity – Booker T. Washington, Buddha, Confucius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Moses and Jesus.  I am also those whose names and faces have long been forgotten but whose lessons and character will always be remembered in the accomplishments of their students.

Teach and Serve 2I have wept for joy at the weddings of former students, laughed with glee at the birth of their children and stood with head bowed in grief and confusion by graves dug too soon for bodies far too young.  Throughout the course of a day I have been called upon to be an actor, friend, nurse and doctor, coach, finder of lost articles, money-lender, taxi driver, psychologist, substitute parent, salesman, politician and a keeper of the faith.  Despite the maps, charts, formulas, verbs, stories and books, I have really had nothing to teach; for my students really only have to learn who they are, and I know it takes the whole world to tell you who you are.

I am a paradox.  I speak loudest when I listen most.  My greatest gifts are in what I am appreciatively willing to receive from my students.  Material wealth is not one of my goals, but I am a full-time-treasure-seeker in my quest for new opportunities for my students to use their talents and in my constant search for those talents that sometimes lie buried in self-defeat.

I am the most fortunate of all who labor.  A doctor is allowed to usher life into the world in one magical moment.  I am allowed to see that life is reborn each day with new questions, ideas and friendships.  An architect knows that if a structure is built with care, it may stand for centuries.  A teacher knows that if he or she builds with love and truth, what he or she builds will last forever.

I engage in daily battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance and apathy.  But I have the great allies of intelligence, curiosity, parental support, individuality, creativity, faith, love and laughter.  They all rush to my banner with indomitable support.

And whom do I have to thank?

I must thank the people who have made my labors possible: the parents of my students, for they have done me the great honor of entrusting to me their greatest contribution to eternity: their children.  And so I have a past that is rich in memory.  I have a present that is challenging, adventurous and fun because I am allowed to spend my days with the future.

I am a teacher … and I thank God for it every day.


By John Wayne Schallter, Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, 2012.