- Published on Friday, 28 January 2011 14:18
A lot of teachers are feeling pretty discouraged these days. While chatting with a former grade school teacher recently she said: "You know. 30 years ago kids were nicer, calmer and they listened to us. Now, it's a different story. Teachers are dealing with kids who are jacked up on sugary breakfasts and lunches and fed preservative filled foods for dinner. They are angrier and more agressive, but we are not allowed to discipline for fear of being sued by parents - or fired. And here we stick 40 kids into a room with one teacher and then tell her she's doing something wrong. I'm glad I retired."
Whether or not her outlook and opinion are right/wrong, it made me think. I am still in the process of wanting to earn my elementary ed degree. Statements like hers certainly do test my staying power. Is it worth the effort any more? With so many politics making a teacher's job harder and harder, is it any wonder many teachers leave in their first year? Probably not.
I thought back over my own childhood and back to the teachers who made a difference in my life. One of those teachers didn't come along until I was in grade 9.
Here's my story
I had a photo long ago. This photo showed the image of me dancing with a teacher of mine. His name was Mr. Lindquist. Mr. Lindquist headed up a business leaders group at our school: DECA. He invited me to join and at first, I declined: "I'm not good enough. I'm not a leader, Mr. Lindquist. I'm not smart enough, either. You should ask someone else." He assured me that he wanted me in this group. Even if I didn't feel as though I fit in right away, Mr. Lindquist believed that attending the DECA Conference in Idaho would show me otherwise.
I agreed to go.
This teacher had a soft spot for me. He knew - I needed a self esteem boost. For various reasons I was choosing to date boys that beat me down - both emotionally and physically. Looking back now I realize that Mr. Lindquist saw through me and was offering me an emotional life line.
While at the DECA Conference meet-and-greet, everyone went out to the dance floor. I sat off to the side. Mr. Lindquist asked me to dance. Reluctantly, I agreed. He whispered in my ear about how proud of me he was and that there was far more to me than I was seeing. I just had to believe in myself.
Someone snapped a photo of us dancing. I held onto that photo for years but sadly, misplaced it along the way. For the past 8 years I have wondered where that photo went. What happened to it? I've thought about Mr. Lindquist and the fact that he was one of the first people to say, "You're a leader. Whether you believe that or not, you are. Some day - you'll see." I've cried over that photo. I wanted it back so badly. To this day, I remember the dance as being one of the few times, during high school, that I felt as though I fit in. Like I really mattered.
Last night as I was putting away some belongings, I stumbled upon a old photo album. I opened it up and began to flip through.
There was my photo. Still shiny and in tact. Still showing me smiling and happy. Still implying: "You are more than you know yourself to be. Just wait. You'll see."
A rush of emotions ran through my blood and into my heart, around my past and onto my future. This teacher gave me hope and he offered me compassion. He boosted my self esteem and made me wonder: "Can it be true? Could I have leadership abilities? Me?" He didn't have any children of his own but his heart adopted some, like me. He gave me confidence and self assurance that has lasted, in my memory bank, for over 19 years.
That's what a good teacher can do.
ABOUT the Author:
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Kids Perks. She and her husband co-own Pine Media. Shara has a background in education, early childhood, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.