It is not a stretch to say that the world we live in today is a very different than it was even 10 years ago.
As society changes and the values of society shift, schools have to find ways to make sure kids are prepared to go out into society and be successful. Projecting the skills and dispositions of value for kids 10 years into the future is a tough task!
Our challenge is to make sure students are ready for the world. Respecting others, being responsible and being ready for what is expected are keys to success in life. This is why they are the core of The Viking Way at Tippecanoe Valley Middle School. These are valuable skills and every student must develop a value system that includes them if they wish to be successful now and in the future.
Students must have an attitude that no matter how challenging a situation they can persevere, think, and attack the challenge. As a school, we work hard every day to help students develop this skill. The development of grit has to be a two-way endeavor. Many times kids are quick to give up because they see a challenge as too hard, not fun for them, or not a priority. As adults, we can all affirm that not everything in life is easy. Grit, the ability to persevere, is a key to success in the future, no matter what that future brings.
The job of a teacher is also a challenge today. It is a thankless job that is bombarded with negativity and painted by some as "failing." My job is to make sure our staff meets all of the legal, statutory and policy-driven expectations of the state and the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation. However, I feel it is also my job to make sure my staff understands our true purpose and keeps focused on our “why.”
The TVMS staff completed a study of “Lead ... for God's Sake” by Todd Gongwer this semester. The book generated some very interesting discussion about the current realities of teaching and the current status of society in general. It provided great professional discussion and helped us set our priorities for the year.
The book is the story of a basketball coach who is struggling to get a team of talented young men to perform and also how a janitor named Joe showed him that fear and reward aren't always the best way to lead. Our true heart and the relationships we develop are critical to leadership.
Teachers did not become teachers only to help kids pass a test. Society is telling us that a single measure defines us. I disagree. What defines us is the care we put into our kids, the belief we have in their abilities, and the expectation we have for ourselves and the kids we serve.
Today's society needs respectful, responsible, ready, gritty and caring human beings. We are working hard at TVMS to equip our kids with these skills. With the help of caring parents and a concerned community, we will make sure our Vikings are ready for whatever the future throws their way!
This article and many more written by Backus can be found on his BLOG at