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Give Each Other a Smile

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The final quote that hung on my wall in my principal’s office is one from Lardner. A quote I love and one which I feel can be embedded into our lives daily.

It fits very well with the profession of teaching, and I believe if it was one premise upon which all teachers acted, then what is happening in our classrooms would drastically change for the better. The quote is similar to the Mauriac quote which hung in my office, in that the concept of love is within its essence.

I have always held the belief that when teaching as a profession chooses you, then you will make a great teacher, because you have naturally, the capacity to love – your work and the children in your care. A love for the role and the charges placed in your care will mean that you most definitely will be able to have a positive impact on the future of their lives.

I believe it is a very difficult profession if you do not love it. In fact, as Khalil Gibran says indirectly of teaching, you would be better begging alms from the poor at the city gates than standing in front of a classroom, if you did not love teaching, and he adds ….work is love made visible. It would be my belief that there is a need for a slight change to Gibran’s words from: “Work is love made visible” to “Works needs to be love made visible”. If you cannot love while teaching, then do yourself a favour, and do the children in your care a favour, and change your job……

This concept is supported in the work of the mystic from the 14th century Thomas A Kempis, when he writes in his work, The Imitation of Christ, the performance of an action is worthless in itself, if it is not done in love. Kempis actually wrote ‘if it is not done out of charity’. When charity is equivalent to impartial love, the interpretation of his words, I feel, is legitimate. Irrespective of the wording, the principle contained in the quote is what permeates the one hanging on my wall. Kempis posits at another time: “Love flies, runs and rejoices; it is free and nothing can hold it back”. How awesome is that. When that level of liquid love is put into the act of teaching, then expect miracles in the classroom!… but I digress.

The quote that hung on my wall is not restricted to those in the teaching profession. I believe it is a quote with a message by which we could all act. Whatever we do, whether it be a significant act, or the sharing of a small word, or seemingly imperceptible piece of body language, when it is done with love, then it becomes great. This quote identifies the potential of such an act.

And so to the quote itself. I have morphed the quote a little whilst, I believe, remaining true to the author’s intent……… They gave a smile….with the future written on it.

A smile. A small thing. A simple act. An act that bears well. An act in which love lives.

There is something special about these smiles. They are neither plastic nor sullied by veiled intention. Some use their smile to do this. Their intention is their own advantage. But a smile which has a future written on it is an open, honest, simple gift …….. from the heart.

When a teacher teaches, and in so doing, gives a child a smile with the future written on it, then the child, feels within him or herself a sense of belonging, a confidence in what he or she is doing, and a feeling of certainty about his or her future.

So too when we find ourselves giving a smile with the future written on it, what we leave could be what a teacher leaves with a child, it may even be unknown to us, but rest assured it will be positive. It will be a positive mark on someone else’s destiny (Mauriac), and we will certainly be doing something that is worthy of our own respect (Chin-Ning Chu).

Smile.

All the best, Mark.

Dreams

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Sometimes, at conferences, I share with others the concept of the need to dream possible dreams compared with dreaming impossible dreams. Recently I was asked, “How do we distinguish between possible and impossible dreams?” In answer to this question, I would make two points.
1. There are so many people out there who offer individuals amazing and impossible dreams. I believe they are peddlers of false hopes/dreams. An example of this is the entrepreneur who say, “If you come to my Seminar, I will make you rich!” or “Come to my seminar, and, in three days I will make you a world class sales person.” These are examples of those who promote and profit on the marketing of impossible dreams. If they were possible then we would all be rich or we would all be world class sales persons. They prey on the insecurities of ordinary folk. In Australia, we have a large number of visiting ‘gurus’ who peddle such perpetrations. Australians generally have an aversion towards such.

Such operators usually create an ill conceived and misguided dependency within those who attend these so called ‘life changing’ workshops. This is achieved by what MacDonalds might call ‘up selling’ … that is: “Do you want fries with that?” In other words, “you need not only to attend my seminar, but you need to buy my products to achieve your change”. I remember being invited to a very well known life guru, who was going to change my life in two days. Then the dependency was created by the sale of products which I supposedly had to buy to ensure my life was really changed, and if I bought the materials then, I would save substantially. Such is the ill conceived dependency used often by these purveyors of impossible dreams.

It is worth noting that it is generally held that behavioural change can take up to 28 days – just a few more than these so called gurus offer the participant. When we add to that the research on the impact of professional development that is provided in a one hit wonder. The probable positive, long term outcome of attending such training is extremely limited. How many of us have, in our professional libraries, DVDs, books and copious notes that we have not touched in a long time. If we really want to bring about change, then the concept of coaching, in its purest form, will do more to bring about positive, long lasting change.

2. Then there are the dreams we have, as opposed to those which are created or perpetrated by those peddlers of faulty hopes. I am a believer in having dreams, but I am a believer of and ensuring those dreams are stretch dreams – ones that will take us out of our comfort zone, and push us beyond what we thought might be possible. But the dream needs to be possible. I think I mentioned at a recent conference that, for me to dream that I may be able to walk again, is to dream an impossible dream. When I put my energy into something that is impossible for me to achieve, I waste that energy. It is not to say that science will not progress, and that may happen, but for me to energise that dream is to tilt at the windmills at which Don Quixote tilted.
So, how do we distinguish between possible and impossible dreams? I think the answer lies in dreaming in steps; steps that challenge us. For example, say your dream was to become World Champion of Public Speaking, and you were a beginning toastmaster. Then your stretch dream may be to win at area or division, or even district. This is how I approached my journey to becoming World Champion. I dreamt of winning at club level, then area, and so on.

So choose whatever a challenging step is for you. Once achieved, your dream changes, and consequently continues to challenge you…..but it is still possible. Susan Boyle is a great example of someone who dreamed a possible (albeit stretch dream). At her first appearance, she stated she wanted to be able to sing like Elaine Paige. For her, this was a possible dream, because she had a remarkable voice. For me to dream to sing like Elaine Paige would be an impossible dream. You would realise this if you had heard me sing!!!!