What Drives YOU?

Author: Aubrey Yeh
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EdTech Café

EdTech Cafe
 Standford EdTech (Author)
EdTech Café is a podcast series produced by the educational technology team at Stanford Medicine.
It’s February – traditionally a hard month for teachers. With some changes coming in my district, there has been an extra layer of tension and uncertainty. Instead of getting stuck in this, I have spent a lot of time lately reflecting and reconnecting to my purpose.

The Big “WHY”

No matter what role you are in, why do you do what you do? It’s easy to say “students”, but I would challenge you to go even deeper than that. What is it about working with students that drives you? Is it seeing them learn? Is it preparing them for the future? Is it the relationships? Is it seeing them develop a love for your content? All are important, but is there one that is more fulfilling to you than others?

Thinking Outside the Box

If you could be doing something else, what would it be? I’ve always been a teacher of some sort, and my identity is tied to that. When I moved from teaching music to ed tech, I initially struggled with “losing” the music teacher part of my identity. When I moved into administration, I worried about “going to the dark side”. But each move has accelerated my growth and given me new skills and perspectives. Sometimes it’s worth thinking outside the box of where you currently are to see the opportunity to develop a passion for a different area.

Finding Joy

What brings you joy? What is exciting and fulfilling to you? What makes you feel like you had a really good day at work? As I have been thinking and paying attention to how I feel throughout the day, there are two big things that have stood out to me:
  • I like working with people. The parts of my job I like the most are those where I get to interface with people. The ones I like the least are where the tasks I am doing feel more removed from the people they impact. I am happiest when I am in a people-focused role. Relationships are a huge factor in me enjoying my work.
  • I like working with the big picture. I love making connections between various things that don’t seem connected. I do my best work when I can see the big picture of how things fit in and I can help figure out how to get there.
There are many more things, but those two stuck out the most to me. Guess what? I can do them in lots of different jobs. Teacher, administrator, ed tech specialist, etc. It was comforting to come to the realization that no matter what I do, I will be able to do these two things that matter a lot to me – and, because of that, I trust that I will find joy in my work.

A Note on Purpose

Things change. Every year brings different students. New initiatives, new curriculum, new tests, new laws…our profession is dynamic! Staying connected to our purpose – beyond our job description – can help us weather those changes and come out on the other side. So I leave you with these thoughts:
Why do you do what you do?
How are you limiting your thinking, and how could you expand it?
What brings you joy?

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What Drives YOU?
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