I have revisited The Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier and in particular his post on the Teacher’s Oath. Louis has been writing his random thoughts for decades, and he has been active in the OB Teaching Society (and probably many other things) for way longer than I have been teaching.
So, I’m a little bit surprised I missed this (I have removed the rather religious opening, as that is not who I am):
I will give a damn about each person in the class! I will care! I will support! I will encourage! I won’t just mouth it, I will live it! Each day, unconditionally!
I will teach to nurture, not to weed out. I will greet and embrace and accept each student. I will not greet anyone with the expectation that he or she will fail. I will not treat anyone as dumb and unwanted. I will treat everyone as capable and belonging here. I will greet each person knowing she or he has a unique potential to be cultivated. I will greet each person knowing that she or he can learn, achieve, and succeed. I will have faith in, belief in, hope for, and love of each person. Each day, unconditionally!
I will treat each class as a “gathering of sacred ones,” of diverse, individual, noble, and very special human beings. I will treat each person with equal dignity and unqualified respect. I will not let anyone go unnoticed; I will not allow anyone’s face to get erased;
I will not let anyone go nameless; I will not place anyone in the background; I will not place anyone in the shadows of the corners;
I will not shun; I will not ignore; I will not belittle; I will not demean. Everyone will start with a clean slate; I will not judge anyone by the ring in her belly button or the tattoo on his arm or the clothes she wears or the whispers of other people or a GPA or the accent of their speech or the color of their his or her ethnicity or his religion or her gender or his sexual preference or whatever else;
I will never be negative. I will be upbeat, offering nothing less than praise and/or positive, constructive critique. I will focus on each student and her or his learning, and worry about my teaching later.
I will be there to help each student help herself or himself become the person she or he is capable of becoming.
And, nothing will mean a thing if I don’t help each student help herself or himself become a better person and live the good life.
I make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon my honor. And if I keep this oath faithfully each day, may I enjoy a life overflowing with fulfillment, meaning, purpose, accomplishment, and satisfaction, respected by all in all times; but if I swerve-from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.
There is so much here I believe, and some that I let go for the sake of expediency, or worse. So, my BHAG–my big hair audacious goal–is to read this every day and work to better uphold the sentiment and the purpose of the oath.
Thanks Louis, for reminding of primacy of attitude when working with students.