As a teacher, your success is founded on the success of your students. This is not to say that your employment, compensation or accountability as a teacher should be tied to test scores. Test scores rarely reflect what bureaucrats want them to or think they do (they are lazy and just a bit dull-witted that way). To truly be an educator necessarily means that your ideal of success is founded on playing a significant role in the real success of others. Authentic learning experiences are formative events in a human’s life. No matter what age or circumstance, individuals mature, grow and realize more about themselves and the world around them when they learn new things. It is profoundly humbling and rewarding on those occasions that we see it happening.
Happily, you do not need to be part of a formal faculty to be an authentic teacher. Like leadership, it is more a frame of mind than a exclusive job position. In the higher-education classroom, we have the luxury of having collections of (various qualities of) learners regulary scheduled to appear before us, and the classroom experience is placed within the context of a formal curriculum.
But no matter what your occupation is, you have the opportunity in this life to create extraordinary learning experiences for those around you and, of course, for yourself. Never underestimate the powerful ties that bind leadership and learning together. Rooted in compassion, driven by passion and made real through rich interactions, teaching, learning and leadership are firmly embedded in the human experience.
There is nothing quite like watching students you have taught formally or individuals you have mentored informally move forward and grow in their lives. Whenever you think about “education” or read about the “state of education” today remember that, at the core, this is ultimately the mission.
It breathes life in all you do and all you connect with.