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to the Editor
Writer expresses "A Teacher's Heart"
posted August 16, 2008
It is extremely hard for me to believe that one year has passed since I
was blessed with this opportunity to inform and be informed through
writing this Young World column. In August 2007, I tried to
impart some wisdom to students as they prepared for a new school
year. I wanted students to expect great things for themselves and
from themselves. For August 2008, I think I'll try something
different. I continue to want all students to expect great
things, but this year, I would like to call upon the teachers for a
little bit of help.
I very humbly submit this request to every teacher within eyesight of
this article; my simple request is that you remember why you began
teaching. If you got into teaching for summers off, then you can
feel free to skip the memory exercise (you should focus on whether you
really want to remain in education). Do you remember that
sense of anticipation leading up to the start of school? Do you
remember when you spent more money on back-to-school supplies than you
were probably going to earn in your first week's paycheck? Do you
still have your first Roll Book? Your first gift from a
student? Do you remember worrying about how your students would
These questions I ask to help you think back to a time when all that
mattered was how many students you could help. Of all the
teachers I know, some who taught me, some who taught with me and many
of whom I watched teach brilliant lessons, there was one driving force
pushing them into education: the students. Years ago, the
Jackson 5 released a song called "Young Folks". The refrain from
that song said, "You gotta make a way for the young folks!" That
is the same sentiment that drew, and continues to draw, people from all
races and cultures to the classroom. It is the concept and the
belief that, "I can save the world one child at a time".
When teachers begin to lose sight of the "one child at a time"
mentality, all students begin to look alike. The actions of one
student invoke good or bad memories of a completely different student.
At this point, the teachers' reaction is based more on what happened
with the other student than what is actually happening now.
Whether good or bad, last year was - it no longer is, nor will ever be
again. If it was great, by all means, exert every effort to replicate
it. But if it was bad, set it aside; take from it only what you
can use to positively benefit the young little darlings about to invade
your space on a daily basis.
Give each student the benefit of the doubt. Give them the
opportunity to learn from what you do, not only what you say.
Show students the same compassion you expect from your principal.
In much the same way teachers flee a school with inconsistent or weak
leadership; some students will not react or perform well in an
undisciplined classroom environment. As a side note, volume
and/or harsh tones are poor substitutes for classroom leadership.
Allow your students to see how much you love your chosen profession.
A considerable amount of effort and money are spent each year to teach
teachers that each student has a life outside of the 8 am - 3 pm school
day box. And, the condition of that life will largely govern the
student's attitudes, actions, reactions and motivating
factors. I urge all teachers to get to know 1 or 2 interesting
facts about their students before beginning the 180 day dash to
It is much easier said than done - I do realize that. However, all
adults connected to a school are responsible for the development
(mental, social or otherwise) of each student whenever they are on the
school campus. Teachers and administrators will do well to
remember, "The student least likely to ask for help is most likely to
The role of a teacher is an overwhelming and sometimes frightening hill
to climb. Often thankless and under appreciated, many teachers
return to the classroom year after year determined that this year will
be better than the last. I salute you and I thank you. As a
teacher, you may never see the full effect of the work you've begun in
a students' life. Teachers are like the rock that creates a
ripple in still waters - though its presence changes the contours of
the water, the rock never knows nor never sees where the ripples end.
Just writing about the new school year brings on that
anticipation. I look forward to the upcoming year because of the
enormous potential and the opportunities to help shape the contours of
a young mind. Young people, I hope you return to school ready to
work to your fullest potential. Remember that potential
unfulfilled is an undiscovered treasure!
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