For those of you that haven't seen The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams by Randy Pausch, I encourage you to stop reading this blog post right now and go watch. When I saw that we had to write a blog post about this, I was so excited. I had never watched the video before of The Last Lecture, but I have read the book. One of my friend's parents gave me the book after my high school graduation. I've read the book twice now and each time I've learned something new. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and prior to giving his Last Lecture, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given only about 3 to 6 months of good health, and although I didn't know Mr. Pausch personally, I can tell you that he made the very best of his last few months.
The Last Lecture was given at Carnegie Mellon in which Randy talked about his childhood dreams and how he achieved them, how to help others achieve their dreams, and what lessons can be learned in helping you achieve your dreams. As a future educator, there is so much that I learned from Randy's Last Lecture. One of the things that I loved that Randy said was, "Enabling the dreams of others is even more fun." We all have our own dreams and aspirations in life that we hope will one day come true, but there is something about helping others reach their goals that is so much more rewarding. It's like you took part in their life and made an impact by helping them accomplish something. I think that is what being a teacher is all about. It's about enabling the dreams of others. Teachers don't have a lot of time to think about themselves, it's all about the students and quite frankly, I believe that's how it should be. Being a teacher requires a whole lot of selflessness.
Another thing that I noticed after watching the video was that Randy did a TON of project based learning in his classrooms. Actually, that was pretty much all he did. There was no book learning. It was all about technology and the students loved that. Now keep in mind that this was 7 years ago, so think about how far we have come with technology. There are so many endless possibilities out there with technology to use in order to actively engage your students. If it worked almost a decade ago, I can guarantee you that project based learning will work now. Also, Randy talked a little bit about peer editing. He had his students do it, and it was a great tool. In the video Randy says, "The best gift an educator can give is teaching students to be self-reflective." In addition, Randy was never afraid to reach out to others for help. In the same way, teachers should never be afraid to reach out and ask questions to other educators. This reminded me a lot of how we have started working on our PLN's. We are extending our circle of educators to help guide us.
Although I could sit here and go on and on about this lecture, the last thing that I loved that Randy mentioned is how important it is to have fun. He asks the question, "Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?" I think that this is of tremendous amount of importance when it comes to being a teacher. You absolutely have to know how to have fun and be creative. The teachers set the tone for the students and if you're excited about a project or an assignment, then it will make them excited too. I promise you that your students will appreciate your joy and happiness. I hope to one day create a fun, exciting environment for my students in my classroom. It will make them so much more eager to learn! So to answer the question as to whether or not I'm a Tigger or an Eeyore? Tigger.
Randy Pausch died of pancreatic cancer on July 27, 2008, at the young age of 47. We can learn a lot from Randy about education, teaching, and learning, but we can also learn a lot about life. In the words of Randy Pausch, "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." Make sure you play your hand in being a future educator exceptionally well.