A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the school year for Michigan students as well as students from many other states across the country. Teachers have been back for a couple of days of work making final preparations and going through their beginning of the year rituals. Despite my changed role from the classroom to that of an administrator, I too have gone through my yearly ritual in anticipation of the students arriving in the building. My ritual, one that I have been doing since beginning my student teaching year is reading the book Tuesdays with Morrie. Every time I read that book I feel the energy and the impact that this profession has on the future. The funny thing about that book is that every time I read it I pick up something new. In the book Morrie comments that he is all the ages leading up to his current age. I take this to mean that I am a different person every time I read the book and therefore have a different perspective and set of experiences that I draw from to make interpretations about the messages delivered.
My new experiences while reading Morrie got me thinking. Ideas generated listening to Kevin Honeycutt at the 21st Century Learning Symposium got my mind into a different gear. Mr. Honeycutt had me on the edge of my seat when he was talking about the effect that a solid relationship from a teacher had for him. I kept thinking the same thought over and over, “Would you (as a teacher) treat your students any different if you knew that you might be the only adult in your students’ lives with whom they had a positive relationship? If you knew that your students came to school each day relieved to be safe for 7 hours, would you do anything different?”
What if you knew something very positive about your students, would you treat them different then? In 1968, the controversial Pygmalion in the Classroom was published. The publication was summarized by James Rhem:
“Simply put, when teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not so encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways”
The new school year is upon us. I challenge all educators out there, regardless of their role in the school, to assume the best out of every student that walks through those doors tomorrow. The impact that you have on a daily basis might never be fully appreciated by students, but it is felt nonetheless. Make every student relationship a positive one and push your students to their own greatness.
Have a great school year.