In my last post, exactly one month ago, I wrote about my old senior English teacher who had recently died. Between her death and some other things in my life I've been ruminating on my life and exactly how it seems to be going. I've been thinking about my life, my 47 years on this planet, in terms of a progress report. How would I grade myself? How would others grade me? I thought about this for a few days, examining mistakes I've made, regrets I had, as well as some decent accomplishments. But I could never come close to a grade other than a C for satisfactory and everyone knows a C is a cop out. A C means an unexamined existence. A C is when you're not brave or reflective enough to truly look at the evidence. A C wasn't cutting it.
I needed a rubric. A way to examine my life and categorize events, choices, actions, impact, basically everything I've done in my 47 years. To start the rubric, I needed to answer the question of what is the point? What would give my life value? What things do I deem important enough to put on the rubric? For my rubric, my learning target is that I want to impact people in a positive way. That's really the crux of my existence. I have other goals like being a wonderful father and fantastic husband but in reality, those fall under the banner of my learning target of impacting people in a positive way.
I impact people every day as a teacher. Some of my students/people are impacted only a tiny bit. Maybe I've served as a decent role model or helped to instill a decent love of reading. Then I could give myself a score of +.05 for little wins like that. I have a couple students who have gone on to college to become English teachers and credit me for that. I can go +1 on those two. There was a kid 35 years ago in the sixth grade who ruptured one of his testicles because of me. I'll give myself a -2 on that evilness. Say Obama implements a national healthcare program that helps millions? Barack just did real well on my rubric. That lady who helps abused wives escape their husband? + a whole lot. That husband? He is negative by a bunch. My daughter tells me she loves me and I'm the best daddy in the world? +1 (but that's a damn good one).
The interesting thing about this scoring system is that once I started thinking bout it, I didn't feel like looking backward and examining the past any more. I just want to incorporate it from this point forward. I think it's a pretty neat guiding question to ask myself each morning, "Am I going to positively impact people today and how will I do that?" I know I didn't "invent" this rubric/learning target idea of keeping score but it feels like a pretty good way to live my life.
When is one not one? When one positively impacts a bunch of other people one can be a hundred or one can be a thousand.