During the holidays I have had time to read an excellent book called “Good morning Mr Sarra” (click here for the link). In the prologue was a quote that inspired this post.
A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.
Forest E. Witcraft (1894-1967)
This made me think deeply do we actually make a difference?
It is very easy to lose sight of what is important. I started as a teacher five years ago and I know from experience especially those first couple of years you are constantly tired and working holidays and weekends.
So do we make a difference in our students lives? Will we ever know if our students have an” aha moment” in the future that positively changes the course of their life.
This is the story of two very different students, one I taught a couple of years ago and one I am teaching currently.
Robin was a very disengaged student I had in my first Food Technology class in my first year of teaching. The whole class was very difficult and to be honest due to major behavioural issues in that class there was not a lot of learning happening. Throughout the two years I taught her she exhibited minimal motivation to engage with Food Technology. She left in Year 10 to go to our senior campus.
Early on this year we had our Year 10 into 11 promotional evening. An ex student came up to me and said do you remember me? This normally sends shivers down my spine as I tried to remember their name. It was Robin all grown up.
She said that she had missed my classes and it had given her the motivation to cook at home and explore her love of food. This came as a real shock to me as I never really felt like I had got through to her.
My second student Kate (not her real name) is a student who does not find all subjects at school easy and finds it difficult to get on with some teachers. She has real leadership potential, however, her self esteem needs nurturing to realise her potential. Kate always looks out for the underdogs.
She has been in my class for almost two years and has always been enthusiastic. Kate also asked questions that pushed me to be a better teacher. We are not meant to have favourites, however, she is one of my favourites. She handed me a sheet she had written for me out of the blue one day. I put it in my roll book and read it later. I was blown away! this is one of five nicest things anyone has ever given me. Here is what she wrote.
I’m happy that you’re my teacher;
I enjoy each lesson you teach.
As my role model you inspire me
To dream and to work and to reach.
With your kindness you get my attention;
Every day you are planting a seed
Of curiosity and motivation
To know and to grow and succeed.
You help me fulfil my potential;
I’m thankful for all that you’ve done.
I admire you each day, and I just want to say,
As a teacher, you’re number one!
When I began your class I think I knew
The kind of challenges you’d make me face.
You gave me motivation to pursue
The best, and to reject the commonplace.
Your thinking really opened up my mind.
With wisdom, style and grace, you made me see,
That what I’d choose to seek, I’d surely find;
You shook me out of my complacency.
I thank you now for everything you’ve done;
What you have taught me I will not outgrow. Your kind attention touched my mind and heart;
In many ways that you will never know.
I will remember you my whole life through;
I wish that all my teachers were like you.
We may never know what we do as teachers and how it manifests in our our students lives. Occasionally we get glimpses of our influence and how this makes positive changes in our students lives.
Never under estimate the positive influence that teachers can have even for disengaged students.
I would love to hear your stories of when you got a glimpse of how you made a difference.
Featured image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mark_boucher/306026051/sizes/l/in/photostream/