Dan Van der Vieren
Chinook West High School
Have you ever been told by a friend or colleague, "Let me know how I can help!" How many times have you thought to yourself after feeling extremely overwhelmed, "Wow, I wish I would have sought out assistance sooner!"
This has happened to me more times than I want to admit, so as you read further, please heed my advice!
I began a PhD program at a private university in Colorado in 2010, right after completion of my Bachelor's degree in Mathematics. My initial goal was to be a college professor, teaching students eager to learn. The program was paid for, as I received a teaching assistantship. This meant that I would be both a student and tutor for business calculus.
The part of the moral to this story comes now: in my eagerness to help others, I began to neglect my own studies. After my first test (I received a 'F' on it!), my instructor gently offered to help, as did some of my colleagues who learned of my score. I said, "Thank you" politely, but did not go in for office hours or study groups.
Later in the term, I received my report card: 2 'F's. I was upset, but not surprised due to the fact that I had put others first at my own expense. I was told that I had one quarter to turn it around and that I needed a 3.0 (two 'B's or better) to keep my TA-ship.
I received a B- and a C+. Not good enough.
Had I taken advantage of my instructor and colleagues, I may be teaching college courses right now. But instead, I am teaching math and science at an alternative school where I feel I am making a difference.
At various times in my career, I have struggled to put my pride aside. I have tried to push through the struggle by myself, and most of the time I regret that.
Consider talking to your colleagues about the growth mindset culture and determine if it is safe to share struggles that we face daily. If we promote a culture that says, "failure is a vital part of the learning process", then we may be more likely to remain confident in ourselves and our work, knowing that we have others who are "fighting the good fight", too!