What is Your WHY?

by Ariel Jankord

What is your WHY?

In the past week, I have become a little obsessed with watching videos of Simon Sinek youtube videos. It is intriguing to listen to him talk about humans, the brain, chemicals in our body and how they coincide with corporations and businesses. Yet, everything he is talks about perfectly aligns with our schools and students.

In his TEDx talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action, he discusses the importance of starting with WHY? It needs to be at the core of message. If we just have a what and/or how, it will fail. We will not convince people of change, and they will not trust us. He states that Martin Luther King Jr. did not become famous because he had a great plan for how to change the world, but he had an important why. He also had a vision that everyone could see. “I believe… one day in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” -Martin Luther King Jr. You see his vision was one that was tangible. It was a goal that would allow us to evaluate if and when it had been met. He had a strong why and it’s the reason people had such faith and trust in him. They weren’t necessarily following him, but his why.

I have been challenged to take some time and really pin down my why(s) for being a teacher. Here are my 3:

“I want kids to fall in love with learning.”

How will I do this? Allow them choices in their learning. Provide books that interest them. Model joy in learning new things. Be humble in not knowing all the answers. Give kids ample time to learn, don’t rush them in the process.

“I want kids to have ample opportunities to discover their strengths and passions.”

How will I do this? Teach through the use of Project-Based Learning, experiential learning, and Genius Hour. Give students time to design and create. Expose students to many different platforms for using their voice, so they can choose the best mode when they are ready. Let students decide how they want to display their learning.

“I want kids to build connections.”

How will I do this? Prioritize students getting to know each other through morning meetings and a focus on life skills that help us become successful communicators. Practice collaboration skills that help them learn how to work with different people and strengthen their problem solving strategies. By reaching out to professionals in the community, building strong mentor connections. Connect globally through Skype, and other projects like the Global Read Aloud.

When my future students walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma, I want them to feel empowered to chase after their dreams. I want them to know what their passions are. I want them to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead of them.

I am just a 4th grade teacher, but I know that in order for my dream to come true I play an important role in breaking the cycle of kids just “playing the game of school.”