Emily Garvey: New Approach

by KIPP Houston on Sep 05, 2015

I love meeting my new students every year. As terrible as I am with names and as much as I miss my students from the year before, seeing a new batch of students fill my desks at the beginning of a school year is always exhilarating.

This year I tried a new approach to get my students to open up – I asked them to write down a description of the person they want to be someday. I specified that I didn’t want job titles, but instead I wanted them to dream about the whole picture. What kind of person do they aspire to be?

“I want to be the person everybody can trust.”

“I want to be a person who doesn’t struggle in life and has a fun, happy, interesting life.”

“I want to be someone that helps others in life and changes issues in the world and makes a good impact on something or someone.”

And amidst the procedures and expectations, I also made sure to let them meet me—the real kind of person I have become, beyond being “Miss.” I showed them pictures of my trip to Peru this summer and admitted that I didn’t shower the whole four days that I hiked the Inca Trail. I explained to them why I quit my job two years ago, how it felt to leave the country and everyone I loved for almost a year, and which places won my heart while I was gone. And I shared with them why I came back to my passion for teaching.

I tell them this not to turn them away from their goal of “to and through” college but to encourage them even further. The people they wrote about becoming were not defined by their college degrees but by their kindness, their generosity, their talent, their ambition.

Just as I am more than a teacher, they are more than just students. They are friends, artists, athletes, volunteers, siblings, adventurers, dreamers. Yes, we owe them content knowledge and skills. But we also owe it to them that every time they fill our desks, we are also educating those other parts, the parts that help them fill their potential and slowly transform into the kind of person they want to be.

Read more from Emily here.