A reflection about defining and communicating my moral purpose

Our twitter session was a great addition to the reading this week; after reading the text, I felt like I was still thinking about last week’s essential question.  During our twitter chat, it helped to hear from others what their thoughts were on their individual moral purposes and what that looked like in the classroom.  When I first started out teaching, I held very strongly to my philosophy of education because I believed that it articulated what I valued, why I chose to be a teacher, and how I would go about my work.  I also think because it was so heavily emphasized in the teacher education program (it was one of the culminating documents in our portfolios), I placed a value on what it represented without fully understanding what it would actually look like in practice.  Fast forward to this week, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have “arrived” at my one true moral purpose for life; but rather that I feel I am at a certain place in my understanding of why I do what I do.

When I read Tyler’s (@iamindlgak) blog, I was reminded of my own writing last week about a moral purpose feeling more like a guiding principle or belief.  Sometimes I think we can get hung up on the terminology and “moral purpose” is one of those terms that can quickly alienate us from others.  I commented on Tyler’s blog, that “the term “moral purpose” has a certain connotation to it that either assumes EVERYONE shares the same definition of what is moral or draws a line in the sand about what “I” believe is moral compared to what “they” believe is moral.  Either way you cut it, it comes out with a bias…”.  I went ahead and restated what I interpreted from his writing, that he believed “that every student is entitled to a quality education” and he did this by modeling his expectations of students.

On Sally’s (@SallyeB12) blog, I was challenged to think about how I communicate my moral purpose to students; is my moral purpose apparent to those I work with and how do they let me know they understand my intent.  I shared that after hearing young people continuously despair over their best never being enough or mattering to anyone, I had to learn to see my teaching practice through their perspective.  Are my expectations unreasonable, unfair, and beyond their capacity?  How can I remove the barriers or increase the students’ capacity to meet my expectations?  Did my expectations need to be re-examined?  One of the most important strategies I use to achieve my moral purpose is to walk with others rather than simply pointing them in the right direction.  I commented that I believe that educational and work environments stack the deck against students by asking them to give their best and then measuring them against standards that don’t acknowledge that everyone has their own “best”.

I found on Ali’s (@ak_agryga) blog that we shared similar approaches to achieving our moral purpose.  We emphasize respect, positive attitudes, and collaboration.  I shared with her that above all else, I challenge students to be their own champions and to take ownership over their learning.  They have to believe in their own potential for success and adopt a growth mindset if they are to experience success in learning and in their own lives.  I also shared that I use the physical learning space to support students in being creative and collaborative; by simulating group or team work environments I want students to take pride in their thinking and working space (both physical and mental).  It might be chaotic and messy but it’s real and it reflects who they are and what they are all about.  And you can’t collaborate from your own learning space, you’ve got to intersect, interact, and overlap with others for that to happen.

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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