I Hear You, Chase

“It is your resilience in conquering the main event — adversity — that truly prepares you for life after school.” -Chase Mielke

While educators and students well know that academics frame the demands of the school year, there’s so much else that requires navigating every single day: schedule learning, social quandaries, and time management, just to name a few. Earlier this year, Michigan-based educator Chase Mielke wrote an impassioned blog post on what students really need to hear. Mielke articulates the worry that keeps him up at night: that students are failing the main event of school — adversity — because they quit by taking the easy way out, whether that’s by foregoing challenging opportunities or opting for rudeness over mature problem solving.

I hear you, Chase. The path of least resistance is a tempting one — one that you astutely observe builds “a habit of quitting.” Indeed, my path from lunch worker to kindergarten aide to teacher to NEA president has been replete with opportunities to choose a less demanding path. And were it not for educational mentors like you, I very well may have opted for an easier path at one of the intersections.

Educators are tasked with the incredible challenge and privilege to care for the whole child. It’s a multidimensional role that — as Mielke knows — can consume one’s thinking well past the end-of-day bell. It’s a role that that demands intentional focus and a partnership between educators and students, whether it’s conveying concepts bound in books or simply finding the courage to put pencil to paper. Picking up that pencil together and teaching students to choose the challenging path will equip them for life.

Originally published at lilysblackboard.org on November 5, 2015.

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