Every year, a fresh batch of bright eyed learners wake up early in the morning on the first day of school in September. After a long summer, mom and dad are ready to see them go back. And after much planning, teachers are ready to carry out their long reflected upon schemes. Every year, it takes the teachers a few weeks to get everyone’s names down. It’s easy in all of this excitement to forget that there are students among this crowd that are not excited to be there.
When I was in school, I was the girl that most people would consider to be the “teacher’s pet”. I don’t think it would be uncommon for teachers to find that they were this student. Teachers love this student and wish that their room was filled with clones of this student. But the truth is that I worked my tail off for my grades, and I was willing to do anything to show a teacher that I was willing to go above and beyond. Now that I am grown, I am still this person. It is an inherent part of my being. It is a force within me that drives this incessant need to please. Instead of aiming to please my teacher, I now aim to please my employer.
However, now that I am an adult, I realize the part that I was missing. In school, I wanted to know exactly what I needed to do to exceed expectations. As I stated before, I still do this; I can’t change that about myself. However, I have realized one very important thing in my adult life. Doing something to exceed expectations, or even to get it done, is very, very different than doing something for the sake of learning. And it is so easy to forget this.
Now that I am no longer in school as a student, I find myself looking for ways to learn. I long for information and new knowledge. Not necessarily in formal ways, but in any way I can find. Whether it is something I am interested in or not, I am hungry for new learning. This is something I wish I would have known growing up, and it is something that I wish I could wrap up in a neat little package and gift to each of the students that are before me each morning. Maybe it took experience and the completion of my formal education for me to truly appreciate the idea of learning, or maybe not.
As teachers, there are always those students that keep you up at night because you know they don’t have that spark; they don’t wake up each day ready to learn; they don’t yearn for more knowledge; they want to learn something only if they feel it is something they are immediately interested in. They want to learn something only if there is an incentive. If only they knew that the incentive is the learning itself. And it all boils down to this one thought; I don’t wake up in the morning to collect homework or grade tests. I wake up because I want kids to want to learn.