Note - Today is the final day of Kwanzaa & I'm examining how each principle correlates with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Faith (IMANI in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read & feel free to comment.
Of the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, this is by far the most important one for me personally. I consider “faith” to be the bedrock principle…the foundation upon which all of the others stand. I find it to be equally foundational for classroom teacher success. At the end of the day, you as the classroom teacher must have faith in yourself and in your ability to bring out the very best in your students.
In my book, The Teacher 50: Critical Questions for Inspiring Classroom Excellence, (a book comprised of fifty self-reflective questions for teachers), it opens with the question, “Are my students at an advantage BECAUSE I am their teacher?” In all actuality, I could conduct the entire accompanying workshop on this one question. A tremendous amount of self-reflection, self-assessment, discussion and emotions come out of this question from the teachers in my audiences. I am essentially asking teachers, “Are your students better off because you are their teacher? Is there something advantageous for the students as a result of you being their teacher? Are you the best possible teacher for your students? Would your students be better off if they were with another teacher or even in a different school?”
This is not an easy question to answer. It forces one to be brutally honest with and about oneself. It speaks volumes about how you see yourself as a classroom teacher, but also how you see yourself as a person. My contention here is that as a classroom teacher, your response to this question must be an emphatic YES! Think about it…imagine you’re the teacher of a classroom of twenty-five students and their academic, social and emotional lives are very much dependent upon you and their academic, social and emotional well being will determine their success. That translates into you carrying quite a heavy burden and responsibility into your classroom daily relative to the life chances and opportunities your students will have. Looked at this way, it then becomes imperative that your students are in the midst of a teacher who is unwavering about his / her beliefs about whether or not the students are in fact at an advantage because you are their teacher.
As a classroom teacher of children, you have no choice but to have faith in yourself. You can have all the credentials that are humanly possible to accumulate relative to degrees, certifications and professional development hours but if you lack faith in yourself and your ability to be great in your classroom, then all of the credentials you accumulated are for naught. Of course, your credentials are invaluable and I would encourage any educator to accumulate as many as you can because this benefits children, but equally important is your faith in your ability to execute all that you have learned. You have got to walk into your classroom everyday with confidence. You have got to walk into your classroom everyday knowing that your students are in the best possible hands. You have got to walk into your classroom everyday with the anticipation that your students are going to achieve at the highest possible levels because of the faith you have in yourself, the faith you have in your skillset and the faith you have in your students…despite whatever challenges and obstacles that may come your way.