“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” ~ Marla Gibbs
Everyone. It takes a village, right? You bet it does. It takes everyone. Every single one of us. Everybody.
In Everybody Always, author Bob Goff shares that we cannot love the people who we do not know. We need to get to know each other. As educators, our job is to get to know the learners counting on us. “When joy is a habit, love is the reflex” (p.21). I used to tell my students that they did not need to love everyone, but that they needed to respect and be friendly to everyone. Maybe it is more than that? Maybe we do need to believe and model for our students to get to know and love everyone. Can you imagine what this world would be like if we did more than attempt to respect others? What if we lived in a world where we respected and loved everyone? Everybody.
When we watch a team compete, we see successful teams count on everyone. Each team member has a role to play no matter how big or small. Coaches guide team members to work together. Likewise is true for teachers in the classroom. We are preparing students for a social world. We integrate collaborative learning in many lessons, and guide our students to learn the art of collaboration and being part of a team, something bigger than ourselves. As Babe Ruth once expressed, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
We need to understand and truly believe how we are all important members of a team, our team. As John Maxwell states, “We behave in light of our beliefs. If you don’t like people or don’t believe in them, you won’t be able to fake it…If you desire to add value to people, then you need to value them first” (2004, p.104). We need to be authentic in our relationships with everyone: students who are in general education or students who are in special education, students who are English proficient or students who are English learners, students who are big or students who are small… “Students thrive when they learn together and construct their learning in an inclusive classroom where everyone’s thoughts are heard, valued, and respected” (Dennis, Holmes, & Smith, 2015, p. 204). We need to add value to people.
Each day… show up… add value to those around us and to the work that we do together. As Thomas Jefferson shared, “A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.” This is true for us in education. Be the candle to help light up the world for everyone. Help light the path. Listen and learn about others and their stories.
As humans we are natural storytellers. We weave narrative into nearly every relationship we build and value. …Regardless of age or status, if you’re not satisfied with the path you’re on, it’s time to rewrite your future. Your life should be a story you are excited to tell. …It requires strength of imagination. It relies on that ability we each possess to suspend belief in the restraints of today to enable the possibilities of tomorrow. Most of all…each morning that we make a choice to bring positivity or negativity into the world, and that with every single person there lies an extraordinary story waiting to unfold. Braun, 2014, p.250-251)
We write our story together. Are we listening to what we all have to say? How can we start to share our stories and to really listen to one another?
“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” ~Mattie Stepanek
(This is an excerpt from the POWERFUL E Chapter in our book POWERFUL Teaching co-authored by Dr. Wendy Schoolmeester, Dr. Sonya Vierstraete, Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter, and Dr. Mary Risacher. The book is available at Kendall-Hunt Publishing: https://he.kendallhunt.com/product/powerful-teaching).