I am into my fifth decade of teaching in various forms. The one constant in all of that time is that each student is an individual with unique needs and learning styles. It is impossible to meet all the needs of all the students all of the time, but it is possible to make slight adjustments to teaching style to accommodate the needs of each student. Each student has their own special needs and talents. Those who may seem slow in one area will have other areas in which they excel. The key to teaching, for me, is to find out what it takes to have each student get to that “aha” moment where specific concepts make sense. If I can do that with individual students, I feel I have achieved one of my main goals in each of my classes. Finding each student’s motivation is sometimes difficult. Helping a person to succeed starts with helping a person to want to succeed.
I have recently rediscovered Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes when I was thinking about writing this article. I am using two of them in this article as they match my thoughts.
There is an old saying. “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” We each are born with talents, that may take some effort to discover, but they are there. Some talents are easier to spot than others. I am sure we each know some great athletes or musicians who shine early in life. However, unless those talents are developed, others can become better through hard work and lots of practice. In baseball and basketball, it is often said that the best coaches are the ones who worked hard honing their skills, without all of the natural gifts of others. They know what it takes to be great, where a person who has many natural gifts that hey do use may not know how to explain how to become excellent. We each need to decide what we love and see what it would take to achieve our goals. We may not succeed in reaching the level of success we would like, but we know we tried and are grateful for the opportunities. The effort may lead to finding something that we like even more. We must not compare ourselves to other people, but must put our effort into improving ourselves. John Wooden went with the philosophy that we must “Make Each Day Our Masterpiece.” He probably is the coach with the best winning percentage of any basketball coach. He taught his players to each strive to do their best. He did not design any offence or defense around an opponent, instead he got each person to go out and do his (her) best. If we each do this, we may surprise ourselves on the success we could have.
After improving ourselves, we need to go out and make the most difference we can. Rejoice in doing “good.” The RWE quote I choice for this is:
Happiness is often achieved through personal effort. It is not something we can expect someone else to give to us. It is important to surround ourselves with good people, but true happiness comes from our own efforts to do well in all that we do. Sometimes doing what is right is not always popular, but it is what brings internal happiness. Go out and make a difference.
Each person is an individual with individual talents and needs. We each need to develop our talents wisely and find ways to share those talents with others. As we serve each other, we will be presented with opportunities for great success and happiness. We must never sell ourselves short or compromise our standards. Sometimes growth is hard, but it is well worth it. Live well and prosper!