A reminder about why we do what we do
I still vividly remember the tears streaming off my face and landing on my black sweatshirt. I looked up to see a satisfied expression on my teacher's face. She had just told me how stupid I was as she handed me my self-illustrated story back to me. It was covered in her red marks, reiterating in my mind that I truly was stupid. Now, I'm sure Mrs. Collins had her own terrible experiences that led her to treat her pupils in such a way, but nonetheless, her words haunted me for years. In my thirteen years of schooling, I attended seven different schools and lived in ten different homes, so getting good grades was not always my priority. Now, I really did love to learn...I just had trouble focusing. My active imagination took me to beautiful far-off places where I was happy and typically in love with a prince. Getting my head out of the clouds and into subjects like world geography was a real struggle for me.
And then, in 4th grade something amazing happened. My teacher (not Mrs. Collins) selected me to compete in a math competition against other schools. At first I thought she had made a mistake, but she announced my name in front of the whole class and said I had been selected as one of the top students to participate. I couldn't believe my ears. I might be good at math?! It was the first time in my schooling that I really felt like I could accomplish something important. I wish I could tell you that I went on to place in the math competition, but I pretty much landed somewhere in the middle of the dozens of other students competing. But honestly, that didn't matter to me. My teacher saw me and believed that I had special abilities. She had sparked a hope in my heart that I could achieve great things. The funny thing is, with all the schools I attended and all the teachers I've had, I can't even remember her name. She was one of the most encouraging teachers I had but I'll never get to tell her that personally. As I sit here and think about the positive impact she had on me for the one year I was in her class, I wonder if she became a teacher for the same reasons as I did. I wonder if she said silent prayers for me as I struggled to speak up and make eye contact. I've been teaching now for more than a decade and have seen many hurting students pass through my classroom. They don't mean to turn in poor work and daydream in class...they are looking for someone to believe in them and encourage them. To be honest, when I think of them, I feel motivated. I'm on a mission to share the hope I have with them. One of the things I like to do is leave little "love notes" on my student's desks, like the ones here, just to remind my students that they are special. Click here for a FREE copy of my science love notes to students.
People often ask me, "Why did you become a teacher!?" (Apparently, teacher salary is not very high. HA!) For a split second, my 4th grade teacher comes to mind and I wonder how she would have answered that question. How would you answer that question?