Goal: Plant a Seed

Part of the Goals 2010 Challenge Series, Goal 25

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One tidbit I carried from church was that having a mustard seed of faith could move mountains. I believe this theory applies to education. I believe if I plant a mustard seed of faith into the mind of every student, then perhaps then will believe that they can achieve success. Belief in yourself makes a big difference. If students believe they can go to college, then they will strive to complete high school. If students believe they can have successful careers, then they might work towards earning the credentials for that career. What is more powerful than belief is hopelessness. I see this daily. There are many students who do not believe in themselves and they live in poverty. Their children feel their hopelessness and often repeat the cycle. I see teachers who lack faith in the system. They teach without passion and without the belief that they can make a difference.

Our Attitudes

Everyday, we walk into the classroom we plant seeds in our students. When a student struggles we can choose to say, “Yes, I believe you can do this. I will help you.”  We also can choose to ignore the student or believe the student is lazy and just does not want to learn. When students disappoint us we can believe in them enough to challenge them to do better or we can give up on them.

I will admit that having faith is not easy, especially when we are underpaid, surrounded by students who are uninspired, blamed by parents, or stressed by test scores. However, I believe in passion. Passion takes faith, faith that you as an educator can make a difference and faith that all your students can achieve.

It is not easy having that faith, but we must muster this for our students. Trust me, your worst behaved student is probably the one most teachers and people did not believe in. Therefore, your belief could be the one seed of faith ever planted in this student.

My long-term goal is to continue having this faith and to plant these seeds of faith in every student so that I can move educational mountains. I have students I struggle with and those are the ones I want to ensure I have faith in, because they probably need my faith the most.

You give me faith. I see the work educators like you do in your blogs, wikis, videos, webinars, e-books, and so forth. You have given me the faith and passion to move educational mountains. Therefore, if you lack faith in your abilities, then let me be the first to tell you that you can and do make a difference.


Reflect on how you can plant more seeds of belief in your students and how they can begin to believe in themselves.

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Where do you get your passion for teaching from?

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. This is so very true! Faith can move mountains…especially when it comes to our students. You’ve pretty much said it all…just believe in them.

  2. It’s funny, because I am a specialist I get to see a whole different side of kids. I get students once a week for 35 min. and am often surprised when I hear a teacher describing a student in the teachers lounge. The child they describe is not the same child that I teach. What I have discovered is that some of these teachers don’t believe in these kids. They have labled them a certain way and dropped them into a category. I generally see very different strengths, dreams, and behavior than the classroom teachers. Having faith in students is essential, everyone needs someone who will stand with them and believe in them.

  3. Shelly, you’re a source of inspiration for us, teachers, and a born leader. Thanks!
    As to my students, I do my best to make them feel self-confident because I’m convinced that helps a lot in their learning process. Self-confidence is a quality we need for everything in life. I’m also sure that one harvests what one has planted. Your generosity, Shelly, is a quality that makes you harvest the best in life.

  4. Yes, once again you have reached the very heart of what we do. If kids don’t believe “they can”, there is no technology, no pedagogy, no strategy that will facilitate learning. I have seen kids ignored and labeled as teachers sometimes fall prey to the easy conclusion that the child is “lazy.” I think the word is “unmotivated”; it is up to us to plant the seed and nurture it. If we nourish, kids will flourish. Thanks again for the post. I needed that this morning!

  5. Joan,

    I love what you said and agree that “there is no technology, no pedagogy, no strategy” that will motivate the student if we have already torn the student down. I watch how I act towards my students so that I don’t make them think I do not believe in them.

  6. I love this post! Sometimes it is too easy to forget that planting a seed is the first step to so many greater discoveries for students. For some students, those kind words offered by a teacher might be the only nice things they here. A teacher’s impact on a student should never be underestimated. Keep up the wonderful work Shelly!

  7. Shelly, what a powerful and positive message in your blog today!

    The good seed and the bad seed. One flowers and the other is all thistles and thorns.

    Every educator profits from the good messages you share. Hopefully, the good seed of your message will find its way to sustain those teachers who give up hope for their challenged learners.

    Thanks for all that you do!


  8. Hi my name is Jessica Purvis i’m in Dr.Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama, i’m studying to be an elementary teacher, We’re learning how to use different technologies and how we can use them as teachers in Dr.Strange’s class. Wow your blog is inspiring! You said everything that I’ve been feeling about teaching…to believe in the students, to have faith in them. It’s really encouraging that someone who is already a teacher believes in believing in students. I’ve had people tell me to not feel this way, that the children who are falling behind are just lazy, and that I’ll burnout real quick if I put my heart and soul into teaching. So it is truly motivating to read that there is someone else out there that believes a teacher CAN make a difference. Thankyou!
    My blog is http://www.purvisjessicaedm310.blogspot.com

    • Hello Jessica,

      I love what your professor, Dr. Strange, is having the students do. I have learned so much from reading blogs. Thank you for your comments. They have impacted me.

      Never let anyone tell you to not have faith in students. I have worked with several at risk students, those with learning disabilities, and others with no English speaking students. Most teachers are not burned out due to the students. In my experience they are burnt out by the system. The students and they incredible way they react to teachers who believe in them is what I have found to inspire my passion and persuade me to continue this underpaid profession.

      I think your obvious passion to be an educator will make you quite successful.

  9. Hi,
    My name is Brittany Lewis. I am a student in Dr. Starange’s EDM class. In a few semester’s I will be going into my first English classroom. When I read this blog the first thing that I noticed was your emphasis on passion. I think to be any kind of teacher you must have passion for what you are doing. I myself have been a Christian since I was 4 years old. And it is nice to hear someone else share their faith. My blogspot is lewisbrittanyedm310.blogspot.com. My course blogspot is edm310.blogspot.com

    • @Brittany Lewis, Keep your passion alive Brittany. It’s what makes good teachers great. It’s contagious too, and can more easily be passed on to your students.

      It’s also a great way to live your faith.

      God bless you!


  10. WOW! You have just described one of the main reason why I am going into teaching! I want to make a difference in a kids life for the better, and if having the faith in them that they will succeed is what I have to do then that is exactly what I will do.

    I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. Thank you so much for sharing your goals!

  11. I enjoyed reading all of your goals and I really like your blog! Thank you for sharing your writing!

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