A lot of us take time at the end of the year to reflect on what we’ve achieved over the past year. In that spirit, we wanted to share this inspirational essay from Cindy Boaz. She’s a nominee for our LifeChanger of the Year educator recognition program. She teaches adaptive physical education at the Keller Independent School District in Texas and is a Special Olympics coach.
All teachers know “What” to teach and “How” to teach it, but the GREAT teachers know “WHY” they teach and can in turn help students find their “WHY”. Have you re-examined your “Why” lately? At times, we all need a reminder of the reasons we are called to lead and inspire students?
The world of education comes with students from many different backgrounds and educators can no longer function under the idea that one size fits all. We teach students from many different countries, from different socio-economic backgrounds, with learning disabilities, and various special needs. What we do to meet those students where they are when they come to us should be driven by our WHY, which is to break down the barriers that keep students from learning and achieving and show them that they can because they are worth it. Not only should we believe in them, we should help them learn to believe in themselves.
ALL students can learn and have Value! You have to be the “Why” for all students no matter their ability or disability. It’s simply done by finding the way for them to do tasks. It may not be just like what everyone else is doing but for them it will feel the same!!! Can you image the endorphins running through their bodies when given the chance and they succeed. No matter how small or how big it is in our eyes… for them, it means the world to be included, succeed and belong.
We have to find ways to bring out the best in all students. That might require one to dig a little deeper for one student in particular to give them the tools they need to move forward in life. If I can bring out the confidence in my students by finding ways to help them achieve success, then I’m helping to raise their expectations to the next level.
As an adaptive physical educator, I understand the what and how of my job; however, to take it to the next level I must look for various and effective ways to define my “Why” as I accommodate student by student creating and providing various ways for them to be successful. A memory of one such student resonates to remind me to always display the WHY for all students.
As she sits in her wheelchair observing all that is happening around her in the PE class, she wonders when it will be her turn to join in the kickball game. Deep inside she is bursting to say, “Give me a chance, and let me show you what I can do.” But all she is able to do is plead with her eyes, “include me.”
But is anyone else thinking what she is thinking- “that I got this”? Do you know why she is just sitting there off to the side? Because for most the unknown is scary and we are more inclined to take the easy route and stay in our comfort zone. She is sitting there because no one adapted the game to level the playing field and afford her the opportunity to participate successfully.
Because she is my “Why,” I do what needs to be done. I provide her the opportunity to show others that she can do it. I bring out the bowling ramp, as she pushes the ball down the ramp it rolls out into the playing field towards the other kids. She’s done it, she’s kicked the ball and with assistance from her peers she is now moving in her wheelchair towards first base. She beams with pride. She does have value, she can succeed, and she does belong. She is my WHY. What’s your WHY?