When you see the end of the school year on the horizon, you can’t help but entertain thoughts and reflections on what you’ve learned and taught this year. Reflection is the focus of conversation as schools plan for next year, educators engage in our last few twitterchats, and we all ruminate before bed. As another chapter comes to a close, I’m reminded that students also look back on the school year and on their teacher…often in years to come.
I’m always amazed at how, as a student, you remember your teachers forever! I bet you can rhyme off almost every teacher you’ve ever had, starting in Kindergarten.The ones you loved, the ones you didn’t. More than likely, you loved your teachers in your early elementary career as they were often your first caregivers after your parents. Like Mrs. Coates…
(I’m 2nd row, 6th from left. Shy?)
As you scroll through your elementary and secondary grades, perhaps it was a coach who instilled a sense of belonging, or a music teacher who finally celebrated your talent. For example, imagine if Fred Wright hadn’t made such an impact on Bill Gates: There’s a sense of trust with our teachers that convinces us they have our best interests at heart. I believe there’s a special kind of place for teachers in our memories. And being a teacher now makes one realize just how powerful you will be as a memory to your students. Forever. It’s quite a legacy. That YOU will hold a special place, you will be THE placeholder for that grade for the rest of their lives. Dawn Fyn: you are the grade 7/8 placeholder; Kristin Methot: you are the grade 3/4 placeholder; Sarah Chiarappa: you are the grade 4 placeholder; Nathan Hall: you are the 7/8 placeholder. Julie Glanville: you are the grade 2 placeholder. Forever.
That’s uplifting. And food for thought as we envision how we’d like to be remembered.
The great thing about teaching is you get another day to make it better. Despite only 6 weeks left to this school year, you still have daily opportunities to invest in how students will remember you. Surely you’ve had those days when you lay in bed and rewind the tape to say to yourself, “If I could do that again,” or, “I could use a do-over.” Maybe it was something you said, the way you said it, or something you didn’t say but should have. Teachers spend an immense amount of time reflecting on their lessons but also their relationships. We are our own worst critics. Luckily, we get a chance to salvage it, to make a difference.
When you consider the time you have left in this school year, in spiteof worrying about the stuff you haven’t covered, focus on the time you still have to make your mark. Guaranteed you’ll be the grade placeholder for the rest of your students’ lives, but what else? What else will they remember about you?