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?

4 thoughts on “Authenticity – Do You Practice What You Preach?”

  1. Love this post! (and you didn’t even quote Seth!). This is a great reminder for me, both overall concept and specifics like the 4 C’s of 21st century education.’ Thanks for all you do.

  2. Great points. I’m not sure if I do practice what I preach, but by being an elementary school teacher it’s pretty hard not to, especially in the classroom. I mean if you teach your kids that they shouldn’t be leaving the lights on at home when they’re not in the room, your kids are going to throw the exact words you told them right back at you. If you teach students that they should use a ruler while they do their work, they’re going to stop the lesson and yell at you if you don’t. One of the more recent struggles I’ve been having is getting my students to use Creative Commons licensed images when they use images in their blogs or homework. It’s a struggle because they really love just ripping images off Google Images (and because I REALLY love just ripping images off Google Images). Now that I’ve taught them to source their work, they expect me to do the same.

    I honestly think that if you want to change yourself for the better, tell your students what you’re doing and have them call you on it every time you don’t. And it’s then when you’ll have to practice what you preach – or you’ll have your lessons interrupted by screaming children telling you that you’re not doing what you get your kids to do!

  3. We had the exact same issue. We are in the middle of Exhibition and I noticed my kids were pulling images off a google search for their blog – some with a huge ‘istockphoto’ or similar logo on them. I realized that they have seen me google and ‘steal’ (usually a little more discretely – no visible logos, but still stealing) whenever I have needed an image.
    What we did was show them how to use Flickr instead of Google and to check the ‘creative commons’ box on the advanced search tab. From there it is really easy to link the whole image or to put a caption underneath that links to the original work. The second thing was to encourage them to take their own photos. About 99% of the photos on my blog are my own – the others are CC. Taking their own photos added a whole new dimension to their work. They love it! We all started to think visually about the message we were wanting to get across and it has really added to the illustration process – often becoming the main point of a reflection or piece of work.
    Check out our class blog for a write up on this and some pics that we would have ‘stolen’ but instead took ourselves: http://g5ris.blogspot.com/2012/04/look-how-creative-we-are.html

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