One of my son’s favorite words is pivot. He heard it a lot during the election cycle and now uses it anytime he notices someone divert or spins from one topic of conversation to another. He is quick to point out the pivots of our family and friends and there were plenty to hear and take notice of over the holiday break with our families. He actually considers the pivots to be quite amusing. I believe they reveal a lot about people, their priorities, their motivations and their fears.
All this talk about pivots got me thinking about pivot-men though. You know, those individuals who are central to a team of any sort.
In our classrooms we are the pivot-men or pivot-women. We are the axis on which our classrooms spin. Our students’ worlds revolve around us at school. For an entire year, and even beyond, their success hinges on what we do in the classroom. It’s an awesome responsibility and pretty sobering as well. For years after they leave our classes our students will remember us as the cornerstone of long division, or ancient civilizations, or expository writing, whatever “thing” it is that they connect us to.
But, how many of us really ever stop to consider what we want to be the cornerstone of, what “thing” do we want to be remembered for twenty years ago?
Yesterday I read a post about one of my old teachers who had recently passed away. I read the little blurb about her teaching career and thought to myself yeah, that’s not what I remember her for. Sadly, for me, she was really just the cornerstone of cursive writing for me, the crux of easy note taking for the last 29 years. I am sure in her mind that is not exactly what she would want to be remembered for. It’s certainly not the only “thing” I would want to be remembered for by my students. So, I considered what do I want to be the cornerstone of? How have I been the pivot point in my classroom or in my work with teachers?
Guess what? None of my answers had anything to do with content or knowledge.
I would want to be the cornerstone of…
Movement, the teacher who hardly ever made kids sit in desks. The one who saw the forward momentum of each day.
The teacher whose world revolved around seeing the beauty in words and snuggling up with a good book
The cornerstone of belief, belief in the power of each person, or belief in ideals
The person whose core was risk-taking and kind words, small moments and creativity.
The teacher whose heart was support and equity.
The one who spun small connections and honored individualism and innovation.
The crazy lady whose world revolved around objects and cultural heritage and material culture.
The pivot-point of choice.
The cornerstone of cultivation.