What do you want to be when you grow up?

March 23, 2011 in The Daily Blog

My students are now sophomores – tall, opinionated, vocal, and talented sophomores, and I’ve been with them since they were tiny little freshmen – whiny, unsure, ridiculous, and  fresh out of middle school. (Who am I kidding. They’re still ridiculous. And whiny.) But I’ve seen them grow up so much in the last almost two years we’ve been together.

We have a structure called Crew at our school – kind of like homeroom, or advisory – which is the home base and the primary contact for parents, teachers, etc. Yesterday in Crew, we were doing some goal setting. I asked students to set a long-term goal, based on what career they would like to eventually find themselves. We then set smaller, short-term goals for the remainder of the trimester that will help them in realizing that goal (things like going to tutoring, interviewing people in the career field, practicing certain skills, etc.).

These tall, opinionated, talented students of mine struggled to set long-term goals. Well, most of them that is. There are a few boys who immediately wrote down NFL/NBA/MLS millionaire. Their short-term goals? Make the school football/basketball/soccer teams. We’re all about reality, folks. But there were others who sat there, papers blank, eyes staring at me, as I tried to walk each of them through possible career paths based on recent interest inventories.

Their struggles made me think back to myself as a tall, opinionated, talented sophomore. What did I want to be when I grew up? What were my goals? I don’t recall knowing. I think I had a vague idea about writing or possibly being a professional reader of young adult novels, but that was about as clear as the vision was. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was set on becoming a broadcast journalist and entered college with that goal in mind. Somewhere along the line, I obviously decided that I was destined to ruin shape young minds and switched over to the education program. But even now, after nearly seven years in the biz, I don’t think that teaching is where I’ll end up. I still have dreams about what I want to be when I grow up. They’re not firmly articulated, shaped, or even close to foggy-clear yet, but I think my future goals will somehow have kids, communities, food, writing, and sustainable living and eating practices coming together in some fabulous, yet unclear way.

I think that today, when my Crew completes its goal-setting activity, I’ll sit right down with them and set some goals of my own. And I’ll remind those whiny and ridiculous students of mine that goals are important, so that we have something to work towards, but even more important is taking advantage of opportunities that arise and constantly pushing to grow ourselves and our talents, because we all know what can happen to best-laid plans. But don’t worry: I won’t tell this to the pro-athletes among us – they have got it figured out for sure.


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