How to Make Their Dreams Come True

The beginning of January--a fresh start. Here's a brand new opportunity for us to help our students choreograph a bright future. I love reflecting on my life and my goals at the beginning of a new year. I enjoy sharing that excitement with my Lakota West/Butler Tech students. I'm not saying I have a perfect record for tackling resolutions successfully. There is that pesky weight issue that always seems to be eluding me. But I love the way a brand new year gives us another chance to get it right this time.
Ed Barlowe, the futurist, visited our district recently. His message was clear. No matter how responsive and up to date we believe our curriculum to be, in today's world knowledge, technology and careers are changing so rapidly that much of what we teach today will be obsolete well before we want it to be. What a discouraging dilemma--or an opportunity to think differently. If this is the case, what can I bring to my students that will have lasting value?
I believe my dream formula is one of the experiences from my classroom that has the power to change a life in a dramatically positive way. I lead my Teacher Academy students through the steps every year. January is the perfect time. I invite you to walk the path with us.
Step One: Dream!
Ask teenagers, "What's your dream?" Too often they will look at you as if you're crazy. They haven't been encouraged to dream. They used to have dreams when they were little, but they've forgotten them. Ask an adult, "What's your dream?" Adults frequently don't know either.
Step one is to actually have a dream. Step one is required. You can't get anywhere without first having the dream. A dream realized doesn't come from vapor. It comes from a seed. Don't try walking your students through these steps until you have your dream firmly in mind.
Step Two: Dream Larger.
What's the most common mistake we make? We don't dream large enough. We can dream about a three percent increase in income, but to dream about more, well, we think, do we really deserve that?
Here's the problem. Only large dreams inspire us. It takes inspiration to get us to buy into the dream. It takes inspiration to move us forward. Puny dreams don't inspire action. We follow people with large dreams who inspire us. What is one of the main differences between the mayor, the governor and the President of the United States? One dreamed of becoming mayor. The second one dreamed of becoming governor. The president dreamed of being the leader of the free world.
At this point, you and your students must enlarge your dreams. Make it an exercise.
Step Three: Put Dreams into Writing.
This simple step will work wonders to give life to your dream. Print makes it official and motivates you into action. Print stares back at you and forces you to do something. Get it into writing as soon as possible.
I love Henriette Klauser's book, Write It Down and Make It Happen. Whenever I have a dream I need to work on, I get a small notebook and start putting it in writing. My students get their dreams into print at my urging. We read them aloud.
Step Four: Share Your Dream.
This is a critical step. Find someone with whom you can share your dream. Seek encouragers but avoid doubters. Sometimes the people who will encourage you the most aren't the people closest to you.
Carefully read the box titled "Choose Wisely" and get to work. A teacher should be a great encourager. I work hard to be one of the people my students think of when they are ready to share a dream.
Step Five: Choose a Dream Partner.
Carefully select one or two people (if you're lucky, maybe more) who you are certain will encourage your dreams. These people can be anywhere.
One of my dream partners lives in Nashville, while I live in Cincinnati. She is a publicist for bluegrass music and an artist. I'm a teacher, speaker and writer. 


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