Carolism #10: Cheer them on! Be a dream maker, not a dream stealer
With every roll of the eyes, every smile turned sad, every snarky comment—you become a dream stealer. Picture a classroom full of naïve students (this isn’t too hard to do). You missed your morning coffee because you were running late, the pants you wanted to wear were sitting wet in the washer, you lock your tiny apartment door and realize you forgot to feed your dog, you get in your car only to realize your husband left the tank empty and you pull into the school parking lot just in time. Now, you’re at the front of the classroom wishing you were any place but there, staring at students who you’d trade places with in a second, and you overhear a young lady say, “If I’m not a millionaire by the time I’m 30, I’ll kill myself.”
Every part of you wants to walk over to that ignorant, never-worked-for-anything, wide-eyed young girl and tell her, “Then you better go ahead and do it, because that’ll never happen.” Don’t. Don’t be the dream stealer. Don’t bring someone into a sinkhole just because you don’t think they can achieve it or because you aren’t even close. You tell her, “That sounds like a terrific plan. I hope you’ve been studying hard!”
Being the dream maker isn’t easy. We’ve got to swallow our pride and come to grips with the fact that we’ll be graduating kids who will make more money than us in a few years. We’ll be graduating kids whose parents are paying cash for their school (aren’t they lucky?!) We’ll be graduating kids who will change the world … and we had a hand in that! This isn’t something to wallow in. It’s something to get excited about!
Here are ways to turn dream stealer scenarios around
■ A student gets excited over a less than average accomplishment. The fact is, their terrible grade could be a huge feat for them. Don’t ruin their moment. Let them celebrate it and encourage them to continue improving.
■ A student wants a cruise ship spa job. Yeah … don’t we all?! We all have those students who want the career that only has a small hole of open spots. Tell those students, “There are limited opportunities in that field, so start emailing cruise lines now! Maybe by the time you graduate, or soon after, something will open up!” You have got to stay positive and give them advice to achieve this.
■ They want to own a business. This new generation of students wants to jump straight to the top. They come out of school wanting to own a business immediately. We all know this isn’t a great plan for a new grad. The risk, the debt, the list goes on, but, you can’t be a dream stealer. Try an approach like this, “That is a great long-term goal! I also think it’s completely doable. But let’s also consider some short-term goals that will help you be a successful owner. The world’s best entrepreneurs gained real-life experience first.”
I see students dropping out of school every year because of their teachers. When teachers are so focused on being the disciplinarian (like getting on to a student for being five minutes late) and not focused on making dreams come true, it’s discouraging. You become the educator no one wants to be around. You make the industry look boring and terrifying. Let’s start making our students feel like we’re their biggest cheerleaders and maybe, just maybe, they’ll reach those dreams a bit quicker.
Never underestimate the power of an educator!