I always thought I had the hardest job in the school system. I had to get 8th graders to write 5 paragraph essays that the state of Georgia decided were good enough.
Writing – I emphatically deemed – was the hardest subject to teach. I was getting 8th graders who really didn’t care about anything to care enough about a subject to write 5 PARAGRAPHS in a way that impressed the “old ladies”. (I told my students it was a bunch of retired “old ladies” who scored the essays).
This was no small feat, my friends. This was not for the faint of heart.
But that wasn’t all.
Math, science, and history all had had study guides. They had specific, concrete standards. And they had RIGHT answers.
Their whole life they had been taught that there were right and wrong answers. If they got enough right, they were good enough. If they got a lot right, they were the best. And if they got too many wrong, they weren’t good enough.
Here I was telling them there weren’t really right answers. They were supposed to write what they think. And, honestly, many of them didn’t know how to think. But to no fault of their own.
I was basically going against what their brains had been trained to believe. They had been taught to check the boxes. They were not taught to think about what the boxes mean or express what they thought of the boxes. And if they did, they were probably wrong.
Later in my teaching years, I learned about the workshop model. The workshop model is a teaching philosophy that starts teaching Kindergartners to express their thoughts via pictures. And then through labels on pictures. And then through misspelled words. And then through jumbled sentences.
The emphasis is on their ability to think, to express what they think, and then to be proud of their thinking.
The workshop model emphasizes their voice.
That their voice matters.
The spelling doesn’t matter. The correctly written compound sentence doesn’t matter. And there is no right answer. In fact, the only right answer is for them to express what they think about a subject. For them to tell a story using their voice, not to tell a story the way the teacher wants them to.
And I thankfully spent my last few years in schools helping teachers & students learn this concept.
That it is not what the old ladies think. It’s not what their teachers think. It’s about what they think.
When they tap into their voice, they have found the right answer.
That’s what I want you to do.
I know it’s hard. You’ve been taught differently the same way my 8th graders were. Your brain believes that life is full of multiple choice answers.
It gets stuck making decisions because it thinks there is a right answer. And that there are old ladies somewhere that are going to tell you that you’re not good enough.
But life is not a multiple choice test. It’s the workshop model.
And your voice is the only right answer.
If you aren’t sure how to find your voice, make strong decisions, define who you are or are stuck in life, you will want to work with me to learn how. Learn how here.