I believe that it is important for any professional in any field to have a mission statement. I never actually wrote one when, for the first 24 years of my career, I was teaching AP French Language and Literature, because I didn’t really have a mission, and if I ever published one it was a complete lie.
Why do I say that I told my clients (parents and kids) a lie for the first 24 years of my professional career? Because I didn’t know the research back then. Yup. For a quarter of a century I did work and I never had read the research. No further comment on that.
What was my mission statement even after finding TPRS in 2001, and getting up to speed on the research? I STILL didn’t write one then. It took me years (two full decades after those first 24 years) to figure it all out, to figure out what a shift in paradigms it really was for me. And I’m still figuring out the research (and the standard, of course). So I couldn’t honestly write a real mission statement in those early years also.
Is there a real mission statement out there in any school, even with the light now shed on us by the Blaine Ray tsunami of the early 2000s? Not many of us take the time to read those mission statements in the first place anyway, right? I don’t think any language teachers follow their canned, year-in/year-out statements. They don’t know them. They don’t read them. They don’t change them. It’s all a big joke.
Yes, I submitted my disingenuous (i.e. bullshit) “mission statements” during those first 24 traditional AP teaching years and even during the last 20 TPRS/CI years, and they were always accepted by those who asked for them. Are we not bullshit artists in our field?
If I had written anything true about my mission as a teacher over those 40+ years, had I the been honest, however, I would have said that my main mission was of a more personal nature. I would have said that my mission, for all those years of my career, was only to get the approval and good will of my administrators, students and their parents, so that they would like me. I didn’t know the research, I didn’t teach according to the research, and I really just wanted approval from my employers.
So my true mission statement for most of my career, until I fully absorbed the research over four decades, would have been:
“My mission as a language teacher is to make people – my students, their parents and my administrators mainly – think I’m a good teacher so they like me and so give me job security.”
That’s a pretty shitty mission statement. But at least it was honest. I wonder how many teachers, had they been given a reality pill, would say the same kind of thing. Probably not too many. I’m sure most language teachers over the past fifty years in our country had good and meaningful mission statements, based on the research. It’s probably just me.