In Your Classroom, Your Excuses Are Invalid.

Chad OstrowskiBlog, Innovate Better, Lead Better, Survival

Your excuses are invalid in your classroom

This Might Get Ugly…

I’m going to start by fully understanding the vulgar gestures you may want to make towards your computer screen or the nasty emails you might write to me after reading this, but I think it needs to be said. But I believe that, by the end of this, you will at least partially agree.

First, let me admit.

As a teacher I know it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. I fully admit that trying to educate students who are lacking necessary skills, 2 – 3 grade levels behind, un-motivated, and we’ll just say “challenging” can be extremely challenging. And let’s not forget all those ridiculous management issues you shouldn’t have to deal with, but do very day because “hey, it’s part of the job.” Trust me, I get it. I really do.

I also agree that teachers have less freedom in their classrooms than ever before, due to things like evaluations, state testing, and national and state standards.

I will even admit that sometimes administrators aren’t as supportive as they should be (most I have met actually are), you aren’t given enough time to plan, you probably don’t have enough resources to do the job you’re being asked to do, and your contract most likely says you should be getting paid for all those extra hours you spent at that student function.

However, today…none of this matters.

Why None of This Matters.

Even if everything I just said is true (and a lot of it is) for you as you read this, I REFUSE to accept any of it as a legitimate excuse for not giving EVERYTHING you have to the calling, the passion, and the mission of education. If you’re reading this thinking (calling? I just get a paycheck) do us a favor and resign. Teaching isn’t about a paycheck, it isn’t about the benefits, the job security, or the retirement package. It’s not about any of that. It’s about THE KIDS.

I’m not telling you to be a martyr, because there is a way to find the right balance. I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t fight for what’s best for the welfare of teachers. What I am saying is that making excuses is a useless endeavor and complaining is a downright waste of your valuable time.

The reason this doesn’t matter is because the student sitting in your class, staring at you every day, doesn’t know or care about any of these things (seriously they don’t.) What they do care about is the attention, effort, education, and passion you provide them. They might not know it yet, but the impact you have on their education and their academic success is something that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. The number of hours you have, amount of money you’re paid, resources you aren’t given, and the management issues you combat, simply don’t matter. In this equation, the only variable that matters is your students and their needs.

The Truth.

The truth is I work with teachers every day to help them find ways to teach better, reach more students, and increase student achievement. When you work with enough educators you realize that a lot of the excuses and reasons for “not trying something” are not only the same, but equally invalid.

Time is an investment. Better instruction, and working towards it, takes time and effort that will eventually benefit both your students and you. I’ve gotten to a point where almost every excuse is invalid. Not because there isn’t merit, or its not true, but because in the end, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Your students are what matters. Their success is what matters. Your impact on their life is what matters.

Put Out The Fire.

If you see a fire, do you look for ways to put it out, or try to figure out who started it?

Most logical people would agree that you should probably put it out first.

Your reasons for not doing something that could help you teach better will never matter to your students. So stop wasting your time on them. Stop worrying about why you can’t do something, and focus on why you should do it. Instead of focusing on all the things in your way, focus on the ways you can accomplish the changes you want to see in your classroom.

Bottom line: stop making excuses. Start focusing on solutions.

If you don’t have anyone that’s supporting you reach out, and I will do everything I can to help you succeed.

You are an amazing educator. You have the passion, the skills, and the ability to do amazing things. Your excuses are invalid…but your potential, your knowledge, and your ability to reach more students are valid. Figuring out how to use these skills will always be more important than the reasons you THINK you can’t.

Keep teaching. Keep growing. Keep improving. And most of all, stay awesome. Your students deserve your best, and so do you.