The concept of hope has become quite intriguing to me. My campus uses the Gallup survey with our students and one of the measures is how much “hope” our students have. Unfortunately, what we have seen is that the answer is not much. It’s not just my school, but nationally, results show our students lack hope. While I know that the world our children face is a challenge, their chances for success are minimal if they don’t have hope that they can overcome difficulties. Gallup defines the opposite of having hope as being “stuck”. Stuck means you can’t grow. If you can’t grow and improve, you become more “stuck” and even discouraged.
As I have thought a great deal about this dilemma, I begin considering “hope” as a verb vs. “hope” as a noun.
- Hope as a verb is just a wish left in the hands of fate. Hope as a noun is paired with the verb “believe”. You believe that what you desire will happen because you trust and believe that it can.
- Hope as a verb causes you to hold back a little in case it doesn’t work out. Hope as a noun allows you to give it all because you KNOW it will work out.
- Hope as a verb results in excuses for why it didn’t work. Hope as a noun results in facing brutal facts and making adjustments to move forward.
- Hope as a verb makes you feel at mercy of the power of others. Hope as a noun gives you the power to accomplish your dreams.
I believe that being intentional in helping children develop hope is key. That is why this year, as I enter my fourth year as principal (a.k.a. Episode IV), our theme is “A New Hope.” I need to be clear that it is not “Star Wars.” Too often those attempting to make additional profit in high states testing attempt a play on words and market “STAAR Wars” products to educators. There is too much attention on this test which takes away from the focus on people. Current accountability systems are often a vacuüm for hope. I have no fear of state assessment. But “STAAR” is not what drives my school or our work with students.
On the contrary, my teachers are Jedi Master’s of Hope and work diligently to help our young padawan cultivate their hope by helping them find pathways around barriers that stand in the way of the future they wish to create for themselves. They do this using a Jedi
My campus has done intense training to become a “trauma sensitive” school. Studies show one in four children are to trauma prior to the age of four. Trauma, especially ongoing trauma, can teach children at a very young age that they are stuck and have no control over their environment and thus create a mindset of “stuck”. With much preparation and new tools, we will be a beacon of hope for these students until our students can find ways around their circumstances and stockpile some hope for themselves.
Public education is certainly different from when I was in school. It is even different from when I began my career. However, we have to continue and adapt to prepare students for the world they face, which is fast-paced and constantly changing. To do this, students must believe they can be successful in a world where the media floods them with stories that drain hope. Yes, we must teach reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. However, instruction in “hope” seems to be a new necessary course.
Obviously, hope is a important component for student success. It is the precursor to other critical skills of grit and growth mindset. Without hope, there can be no grit and willingness to stick to challenging tasks. Without the grit to stick to challenging tasks, there can be no growth. Without growth and improvement, purpose is lost. Hope is not a wish or a dream, but the key to making dreams come true. Because of this, our schools have to be the source of a hope for our students, because our students are our new hope for the future.