So this time of year hasn’t been good for me or this area. We recently had 2 major tragedies in our district this week, the loss of two students in a car crash and the loss of a staff member to cancer.
The loss of the staff member has come as a shock to many of us, only a month ago he was among our midst appearing healthy and full of life. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and it gave him precious little time. Once again (I think I must be getting old and reflective on everything!) I thought about his situation and how that impacts my teaching. these are a few things I thought about.
- How will my students remember me? This is not meant to be vain, but rather to reflect on the relationships I build with my students and what impact I make in their lives. The longer I am in education and the more we have legislation and pressure about learning assessments- the more I realize the while that is a great side effect, the ability to create positive relationships with students and showing them how to learn, grow and be a positive member of their community means so much more. I realize that I will not always be revered as the favorite teacher- but I hope that I am leaving a positive stamp on students. It is a reminder of what I need to do everyday to help my kids through this rough time in their lives.
- Did I do everything I could to give my students the educational opportunity they deserve? With the passing of these members of our community, I am left to wonder if I am providing the best possible atmosphere for learning that I can. I don’t want there to be any regrets by my students or me when they leave my room. Life can weigh on us personally as teachers, but we can’t let those times interfere with the awesome responsibility we have to educate our youth. Every day that we don’t do our best is a day we cheat our students of- something outside their control. I am not saying that social community activities are wrong to do- in fact they are very important to do. I am saying that we need to purposeful in what we do so that we provide a nurturing learning experience for our students. With the experiences I have had with my unique subset of youth- I have found that now more than ever we do need to incorporate more community, relationship and fun activities into our classroom. Many students lack these experiences in their home life- which creates many classroom behavior issues when they are in school. Infuse these into your classroom, make every day a great day for both you and your students.
- Have I done everything I want to as a professional? If one of these incidents had been me, would I have done everything professionally that I wanted to? Are there things that I wanted to do, but always figured I would have time to do later? Are there experiences I want- places I need to visit? Sometimes it is hard to justify doing things in the reality of day-to-day life, but I can’t be complacent. I have not accomplished everything I wish to (travel to other countries, pursuit of a higher degree, attendance of conventions, etc), I will start planning to make these a reality in the near future- not some distant dream that eternally lies on the horizon
- Have I done everything I want to as a Husband, Father, Family member and Friend? Lastly, I think everyone thinks of this when we lose someone. It is a reminder for us to not let life happen to us, but to live our lives. Reflect on what you have, who you are and compare that to what you wish to be. Make some goals (you know, those things you expect your students to do), dream big- live life. There is no reset button, make sure you never have regrets on what you have done.
Lastly, talk with your students about these same things- take this opportunity to turn a tragedy into a valuable learning experience. Being vulnerable to your students and sharing some of your dreams and ambitions to your students is a good thing. Be a good role model, show them something beyond their experiences or dreams- encourage them to reach for more.
There is no better way to honor those you have lost than to ensure you respect their memories and lives by living yours to its fullest potential. So, what did you do in class today?