Lost at Sea: One Teacher’s Guiding Light

May 21, 2019
Caleb Sanders

In the 18th century, the British Parliament set up a prize for anybody who could solve the problem of finding longitude at sea. Many sailing disasters could be avoided if this one problem were solved. John Harrison, a craftsman, created a clock that could do this very thing; however, the clock was so big and bulky that nobody wanted to take it on their ships. Sea captains would rather avoid the problems the clock created than be liberated from the problems that the clock could fix.

Much of my educational philosophy is guided by this parable. At what cost does instituting an idea or program come, despite its researched-based credentials? What is good, better, and best? What really works in schools with all of their variables? There are many research-based programs that are effective and can be beneficial—but what is the opportunity cost of these programs? Are we losing more than we are gaining? These and similar questions can go on and on. So what is a teacher to do?

The teaching philosophy that guides me must go beyond good, beyond better, and must be the best that I can offer. My personal philosophy is to make sure that I love myself, love what I teach, and love who I teach. I find that if I do these things, everything else seems to fall in place. This is the very best—anything less or more specific would not work—and this is my framework for everything I do. Within that framework, I try to incorporate programs that create positive emotions and experiences for my students.

For a teacher, getting out of the car and walking into the school every morning is exciting. I honestly feel that I have the best job in the country! As teachers, our passion and love for learning and teaching will make up for hundreds of ideas and programs—some that we just may not have the luxury or time to get to no matter how good their credentials. It’s our desire to love ourselves, love our students, and love what we do that will drive us to choose not just what’s good or better for our students, but the very best.


Caleb Sanders is recognized as a 2015 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award recipient in Wyoming, and as Teacher of the Year by his district, Caleb is also the author of multiple books for Teacher’s Discovery®. He uses mock trials, debates, simulations, and other activities to engage students in lively learning.


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