Yesterday we said goodbye to my wife’s parents after a wonderful weekend showing them around Milwaukee, eating great food, and catching up. As soon as they were out the door my wife started digging through the two suitcases of memories that they brought her from storage. There were old dolls, her baby blanket, and lots of old notes, projects and assignments from her school years. While watching and listening to her sort through all of those artifacts it struck me at how many memories she had of specific projects, teachers, and classes going all the way back to elementary school. She made positive comments about numerous teachers, laughed as she remembered the fun times with classmates, and continuously reflected on how much she enjoyed school. It was a great reminder of the impact we are having on our students every single day!
In education we don’t always get to see the payoff. Sometimes it takes years for the lessons to take hold and for students to really see their learning. 20 some years from now there will probably be a former student of yours laughing and smiling as they look back on their time in your class. Not only is the work you do helping our students learn important skills and academic lessons for their future but you’re also creating a love of learning and fostering a sense of curiosity that will drive them for the rest of their life!
Every day you are giving your students a gift that they may not be able to appreciate just yet, but you give it nonetheless. You are all champions for your students, each and every day you work hard to ensure that your students have every opportunity to be successful. You make a difference in your students’ lives. It is inspiring to see all that you do for them!!
If you have just eight minutes to be inspired today please watch this Ted Talk by Rita Pierson. You may have seen it, over 10 million people have, but it’s worth watching again (I think I’ve seen it at least 10 times myself). She is inspirational beyond words and may just give you the boost you need on a Monday morning 🙂
Talking with our students often brings my mind back to things that are important but for one reason or another I’ve lost focus of. The other day I was reminded that if we aren’t living up to the standards expected of us we won’t be tolerated and the same goes for our students. However, and here’s the really challenging part of all of this, we have to do it ALL the time! It was that conversation with a student the other day that opened my eyes to something that I think is really important…it’s not who we “be” in the good times but who we “be” in the face of adversity. Can we “be” the person we want to “be” when faced with people we don’t respect, like, or have patience for?
Our best can only be measured by our worst.
I had a great conversation with one student in particular the other day. He is a ‘frequent flyer’ in my office and we were speaking about why he was there on this particular day. He started off with “I didn’t DO anything!” Which is how our kids think 99% of the time – they think about what they “do”. I, however, didn’t want to hear about what he did or didn’t do. Rather, I wanted to know who he was “being” instead of what he was “doing”. It took him a minute to go along with my questions but eventually he explained that “when he is my age” he wanted to “be nice, respectful and kind”. He acknowledged that he was not “being” any of those things during class that day. I asked him if he thought he’d just wake up one day and “be nice, respectful and kind” which really made him stop and think. As we continued to talk he mentioned that he was very upset with a few classmates because they weren’t “being” very nice and this is why he was “being” mean and rude.
This is it, this is the point where we need to meet our kids beliefs head on and help them grow. They need to understand that who we “be” isn’t something that we flip on and off and find excuses to “be nice, respectful and kind” sometimes and “be” a jerk other times. We can’t “be” the person that we strive to “be” only in good times and resort to some lesser version of ourselves when we encounter people we don’t respect. In fact, it’s for these people that we need to “be” even better, to rise up instead of come down to their level. If we don’t change that in ourselves first and then guide our kids to this understanding through modeling, conversations, and consistent reflections, then we can’t expect to see them become the kind of adults who we and they want to “be”.
This change can’t happen over night but as I’ve written before it starts with us and who we “be” for our kids, as their role-models we have a HUGE responsibility to always “be” awesome!!