This Is What I Was Born To Do

I don’t watch American Idol looking for inspiration towards the teaching profession.  But I found it the other night.  Contestant Nicholas Mathis went on stage looking very defeated and full of doubt, and his performance was lack luster because of it.  After Mathis finished, Idol judge Keith Urban made the following remark to him about musicians, but I believe it applies even more for teachers:

“There’s a lot that pulls at you in this calling. And somehow we have to compartmentalize that and when we wake up at three a.m. in the morning on a tour bus and we wonder ‘What are we doing here,’ and we just cry, the only answer can ever be ‘This is what I was born to do. This is my calling.'”  –  Keith Urban

Except for teachers instead of 3am, it’s 3pm, and instead of a tour bus it’s a classroom.

The judges voted Mathis off after that appearance, and if we show up to the classroom like Mathis showed up to Idol, then we are likely to be voted off by our students.   We cannot show up to a class looking defeated – your students deserve a teacher who is positive and professional.  So you need to figure out how you are going to intrepret the things that happen in your class in such a way that keeps you positive and happy.  Realizing that you were born to do this, well, that is just one way.

5 responses to “This Is What I Was Born To Do

  1. I love this. Sometimes it IS 3 am for me. 🙁

    Also, I’m stealing your factor puzzles for next week! Thank you, Brian.

  2. Awesome Brian. Thank you for sharing this insight with us! I concur with Fawn, that for me, it is often 3am. What keeps me positive and happy is that delicious busy hum of worker bees, getting into what they are doing.

  3. This is great. Thanks, Brian. (And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one up grinding over teaching at zero-early-thirty.) I’m reading “Mindset” for an assignment, and I think the positive, professional approach is directly attributable to a Growth Mindset. If you believe that you can learn and grow from the hard days, then you come back the next day ready to move on. If you believe in fixed abilities, that you are who/what you are, then the hard days are seen as failures with nowhere to go, leading to those feelings of defeat and doubt.

  4. I’m going to have to give a 4th vote for 3am – does this mean teachers are rockstars?

    Fawn – Please steal my factor puzzles because I’m stealing that lesson on ratios you just posted!

    Amy – That busy hum is beautiful. Even the not busy hum is beautiful – but not as beautiful 🙂

    Kate – I like that term “Growth Mindset”. That may be the most important attribute for a happy teacher. I think we need to acknowledge and promote that mindset so our students hear it, and more importantly experience it in our classes. That way our students can begin to internalize that failure is a natural part or learning, rather than a fixed position in time and space.

  5. I’m no longer teaching in the high school classroom, however I’m forever grateful to and of awe of those of you still there. I continue to be passionate about math education and my current call is that of a consultant, math coach, presenter, grad school teacher. I still wake up at 3 AM with ideas that I just have to write down or I will forget. I keep a pad and pen handy next to my bed. I usually slip out to the next room to write so as not to irritate my husband.

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