Over the past few weeks I’ve continued to evaluate and analyze what my purpose is as a higher education professional. As I start year 4 at the university setting, I feel like I’m continually pushing, changing, and trying to grow along with my students. As hopefully you can tell, I absolutely love working with students, and I sincerely hope that every single one I come to contact with feels as if I they have someone who is willing to do whatever they can to help them discover their value.
I was blessed to have two incredible high school English teachers that I owe more than I could ever even begin to discuss, but one always made us read Robert Frost. We memorized poems, looked at quotes, and I was always intrigued. His words were captivating, and the above quote always stuck in my mind as I continued down the path of becoming an educator, and now what I continue to be my purpose in the field.
With that being said, I continue to have these epiphanies, or what I call, “mind bends”, that are continually starting to “bend” my views of my overall purpose in the educational realm. As I continue to build my company, Triple Threat Leadership, my focus is on helping people add value, build relationships, and create opportunities. This is the base level of everyday life for me – personally, professionally, everything…… every waking moment.
When I started out as a teacher, and even up until a few years ago, I always seemed to think that students needed me. They NEEDED me to provide them information, NEEDED me to help them progress in their chosen areas, and NEEDED ME for a plethora of other things. While this can be argued to be undoubtedly true in some respects, I’ve realized my entire goal, and underlying purpose, is to help them move to the point where I’m NOT NEEDED. I need to focus on letting go, and making sure I recognize when they DON’T NEED ME ANYMORE.
This is different for every student, and even in college, I often question how well we are focusing on this pivotal outcome. What are we doing to focus on them in this process?
We tend to think that every student needs all components of education, and more specifically, every piece of college. We require a certain number of credits, a certain outlay of classes, but in all honestly, some of them move faster on the “don’t need us anymore scale” than others, and often times for a lot of different reasons. I know the Higher Learning Commission has regulations, and there are requirements for degrees and accreditation, but I keep coming back to the question of how, and if, I’m serving my students to get them to NOT NEED ME, and what I can continually do to help them (and us) realize when they’ve reach that point.
As I was meeting recently with an upperclassmen, and we were laying out his next few semesters of "required" classes & internships, this overwhelming pride came over me as I realized he’s there….. he doesn’t need me anymore. He doesn’t need “us” anymore from an educational standpoint. He doesn't need the classes left on his degree audit. He needs to take the internship and job offers he's getting. He’s ready. We need to let him go.
Does he have a lot to learn, sure, there’s no doubt. But he’s at the point where he’s ready to move on from us as he needs to learn in his next step, and he NEEDS IT NOW.
I may not always approach things in the most politically correct way as I tend to want to push hard and outside the box in every single aspect of my life, but I made a promise to myself when I became an educator to make sure that I would get every single ounce of effort out of each and every one of my students that I possibly could.
Those ounces come in gallons for some, and others in intermittent drops…..but ultimately I need to focus on letting those that have overflowed and don’t need us anymore add their value that they have begun to fully understand.
College (and education for that matter) isn’t about check boxes and credits earned, assessments, rubrics, and evaluations, or specific degree plans and general education requirements, it’s about figuring out ways of motivating students to the point where they don’t need us, and for every single person that’s different. It’s their experience, and it has to be on their terms, and at their pace of NEED, to ultimately help them truly become Triple Threat Leaders.
Scott Grant is the President / CEO of Triple Threat Leadership, LLC,www.triplethreatleadership.com; Mentor of @TheOiler10, and Assistant Professor of Business at The University of Findlay. Contact Scott at email@example.com; or @MrGrant1161