21st Century, Leadership

Authenticity – Do You Practice What You Preach?

Kids are really perceptive.

If you are a teacher or a parent or are around kids on a regular basis, you will know this to be true.  They watch, they listen, they ask “Why do you say that when that is not what you do?”.  If you were to have asked me a few years ago about what I perceived my role as an educator to be, I would have thrown out phrases about covering or uncovering curriculum, skills development, higher level thinking and the like.  If you were to ask me today what my role is as an educator, my answers would be quite different.

I want to be a teacher who truly leads by example.  I want to encourage my kids to reflect by thoughtfully reflecting myself.  I want them to look at me, listen to me, watch me and see in me all the things I ask of them as learners.  The more I think about my current teaching situation and the 4 C’s of 21st century education, the more I know this is happening in my classroom, daily.  And I love that.  What is even more affirming is when our parents come in and remind us, tell us, thank us for our authenticity with their children.  For ‘teaching’ them all those things that can be so hard to teach and are rarely found on a checklist or rubric: perseverance, critical reflection, supportiveness, empathy, compassion, unity and the understanding of what it means to belong to a group.

The quote above precedes the song “What if I Stumble” on the album “Jesus Freak” by dcTalk.  The song and this quote, whilst clearly Christian in origin, could be applied to different scenarios.  ‘What if I stumble?’ – what if I find myself in a situation that is not what I was expecting?  What if I am challenged to say or do something that goes against what I would typically say or do?  What if I find myself questioning my actions, having to make tough decisions, caught between a rock and a hard place?  Do you believe in  what you say you believe in – or do you believe until it gets tough and then pick something else to believe in until the rough spot passes?

Do you practice what you preach?