In order for urban school teachers to establish a foundation for creating the conditions to be successful at managing the students within their classroom, teachers must teach and educate all students in love with endurance and become a model of professional and personal integrity.
Teaching and educating in love with endurance means that as you instruct, admonish, and guide your students, every word and action is done with their personal well-being and potential to serve in mind despite the struggles and adversity you face when instructing, admonishing and guiding.
Students who grow up in and around poverty understand that their communities are in need and many of those students have a sincere desire to help. Teaching in love with endurance allows you to cultivate the skills and abilities of your students through your content lessons to help them give back to their communities and to society as a whole.
Becoming a model of professional and personal integrity means that you are aware that big brother (politicians, administrators and parents) and little brother (students) are always watching you. They are watching for your intentions, your motivations, your values, your beliefs and how all those things influence the way to teach and interact with your students and colleagues. Your students will naturally look to you as an example -- and they should. It is your job to decide and assert what type of example your students have in you; either a positive one or a negative one.
Your faculty members and administrators are always looking to teachers for leadership and direction. Your conduct can give the message that you are someone that can be trusted and relied upon for leadership and direction or it can give the message that you cannot be trusted or relied upon.
The following six principles can help you with becoming a teacher who educates students in love with endurance, while at the same time becoming an example of professional and personal integrity and accountability:
1. Dedicate yourself to prepare students for life: in the way they ought to behave, ought to reason, and ought to live -- as they grow older, they cannot turn the knowledge off.
Your biological children are your students -- your (as a parent) life's work is to prepare them for life; the same is true for the students that you work with everyday. These are your non-biological children and education (teaching) should be your career's work (if not you should consider moving out of the education field) and your obligation is to prepare your children (biological and non-biological) for life. The goal as a teacher is for your commitment to the children in the classroom to mirror your commitment to the children in your home when it comes to teaching and learning.
2. Speak life into your students through providing safe and healthy lessons in your content area.
As a teacher you can do one of two things; you can either repeat or speak. A lot of teachers/instructors simply repeat information from textbooks and worksheets -- this is not teaching. Speaking implies that you have a voice and your students need to hear your voice. Repetition doesn't guarantee one's attention because if you (the teacher) can repeat random information, so can your student. The lessons you "speak" must be safe and healthy. I say that because all voices aren't healthy voices. So what you say be healthy; it must speak life to students. It must encourage them and empower them. How does learning your content, i.e. Spanish or algebra empower your students? Speak to students with that question in mind and offer lessons that will lead to application of them that addresses the concerns and needs of your students and their communities.
3. In all situations, remain level headed, endure adversity, do your job (as teacher); fulfill the duties of your labor.
As a teacher, you will encounter many situations. Students will come to you with their problems; students will display undesirable behaviors as a reaction to their problems; you will have encounters with your colleagues and superiors that are both friendly and combative. As a professional and a leader/cultivator of young minds, you will face a varying number of situations that will require you to be your best self. You must keep a level head and not get too high when things go great or too low when things get bad. You must endure the adversity that comes along with the job. Regardless what you encounter in your profession, do your job and leave no stone unturned.
4. Continuously present yourself as a model/example/prototype of good character.
When you teach, remain with integrity, seriousness and with wholesome discourse/conversation that cannot come under suspicion or attack. In order to be effective as a teacher, you must be the example. In the classroom, it is you (not the student or administrator) that is on the stage whose performance, or lack thereof, will be judged. While there are a lot of constituencies that you answer to, the one that takes the greatest priority is your student constituency. Students are impressionable and inexperienced -- whether they are eight or 18. While it is okay to engage with them regarding life, you must remember that you are their model for academic & professional excellence and integrity. You must hold yourself to a higher standard. Students will learn more from your example at times versus what you say -- your behavior should be your voice, because whether or not you realize it, your students are listening to what your attitude and behaviors say.
5. Represent yourself well in the eyes of your superiors and stakeholders; being unashamed and skillfully maneuvering content and experiential knowledge.
While the ultimate judge of your commitment to your craft is the man in the mirror, students, colleagues, parents and administrators are watching you. You are a representative of yourself and your place of employment. Always represent yourself well; at all times. This means to never compromise your character to where you would be ashamed of your words or your deeds. This also means that you are skillful when handling information and knowledge as it pertains to your content area, life experiences and teaching abilities. Let your professional reputation speak for itself.
6. To esteem some and turn away others is not right.
It is neither fair nor just to elevate some and disregard others. A teacher is to provide students with equal access to opportunities for academic success. When we allow personal feelings get in the way of our obligation to provide equal access to all, we harm our students, our reputation and our ability to reach the students who need us most. Whether we favor certain students over others or we alienate specific students from the total, no matter the reason, we prevent ourselves from effectiveness in our work. Reaching them may entail employing different strategies, yet the quality of your work must not trail off, nor can the access afforded in your classroom. As a teacher, you are to account for the students within your classroom and in your building, but you are not to cater neither disregard any student for any reason.