In my favorite game, Legend of Zelda, the young protagonist Link is tasked with defeating wicked monsters and saving his land of Hyrule. However, Link cannot accomplish this task alone and his companion, a small fairy named Navi, accompanies him on his journey and helps him succeed in his quest. Like Navi to Link, I believe that as a teacher, I am my students’ companion on their journeys to learn and succeed. As a companion on their journey, I have just as much to learn from my students as they have to learn from me. It allows room for student choice in my classroom, which empowers students and lets their voices be heard.
Classrooms should be student-centered with activities and projects that let students not only explore who they want to be but also how to be critical and creative thinkers. What I teach in the classroom should relate in some way to their lives or interests, so students can see the practical importance of what we are learning. Students in my classroom will be able to question everything and read about topics they are interested in to better understand their interests and who they want to become. I believe that teachers are facilitators of learning, providing problems for students to work through without providing what they want the answer to be. When Link needs help defeating a monster or is unsure of what to do, Navi steps in and helps him work through a way to solve the problem, but she never directly tells him what the right answer is. Instead, she guides him toward a possible answer and allows him to decide what the best course of action is on his own. A teacher is not a game walk-through for students to simply consult for answers and copy them down. If Navi did not know how to defeat one of the monsters, she was also unafraid of admitting that she was unsure. I believe that teachers should be humble enough and open enough about their own language journey that they can tell students when they do not know and then the students and the teacher can research together and learn together.
No two games of Legend of Zelda are exactly alike, and no two players are exactly alike. Similarly, no two students are alike and their unique journeys are still in progress when they enter my classroom. My job as a teacher is to adapt to each student’s needs and be available for them as much as I can. Navi believed in Link, no matter what. While the other denizens of Hyrule did not think a child could save them all, Navi did and she was always ready with positive encouragement to keep Link going. One of the most invaluable things in a student’s life is an adult who believes in him or her. A teacher should never give up on a student. I believe teachers should do what they can to help students, even if it means working with a student several times a week after class or working to challenge each student to his or her full potential. Positive encouragement and support from a teacher can make large tasks like graduating high school, attending college, and becoming an active citizen of society into attainable possibilities for students. Navi’s persistent positivity pushed Link to accomplish tasks that initially seemed impossible. Navi cares about Link beyond his role as the hero of Hyrule; she comes to care about him as a person and wants to see him succeed and thrive. Similarly, I recognize that students in my classroom have a life beyond my classroom and I want to help them succeed and ensure they learn and are successful in my classroom and in everything else they want to do.
Finally, at the end of the game when Link has saved Hyrule and their journey is over, Navi knows when to let him go. Navi’s positivity, humility, care for Link as a whole person and not just the hero of Hyrule, and her dedication to her job to empower Link and guide him on his journey all lead to Link’s success and Navi’s success at guiding him. My students cannot stay in my classroom forever, but while they are there, I can help my students grow and become active citizens and critical and creative thinkers, and they can help me continuously grow as a teacher.