Last week, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies here at the University of Richmond held its opening meeting for the new semester. I was asked to give what I would describe as a keynote speech to kick off the semester. Often, when I am asked to speak in this way, I will present some type of Power Point slide show where I discuss a topic like “My Top Ten Favorite Teaching Tips.” In truth, I can do those programs fairly quickly and often with good results.
However, I decided that I wanted to do something different this time. Our world has become so cynical and sour. Every politician with a microphone will stand in front of a crowd and spew anger and hatred. The news channels do not help as they debate the pros and cons of every single political decision often deriving people who are trying to do their best. I fully realize that people in every community can be frustrated but I am tired of the sole political statement being: “I am mad and I am going to tell you about it.”
Plus, I often believe that teachers are just under appreciated, especially by themselves. Without teachers, we would have no doctors or lawyers or engineers or accountants.
I decided to use my microphone time to talk about the excitement and thrill of being a teacher. Sure, I could have stressed the bad days that happen in the classroom (and we all have those) but I wanted to talk about the wonderful influence we can have over so many people, especially young people. I am glad they pay me for this job but I might well do it even if I wasn’t paid. I love the thrill of making a difference. Don’t you? I can’t see how anybody would not love being a teacher.
In case you would like to watch that speech and judge whether I was really positive and optimistic enough, you can check out the URL blow. The first nine minutes are announcements. I start speaking after that. Eventually, I ask the group to answer a question. I’d love to know how you would have answered that question.
If nothing else, fast forward to the very end where I read a couple of sentences from a famous book. Those words are worth hearing.