Miss T, here!
Let’s have a chat about IMPACT for a second.. The impact we have on those around us.
I want to know…
What sort of impact do you want to have on the world? On your kids? On your students?
What legacy do you want to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for?
Speaking from an educator stand point, I, of course, wanted to have a positive impact on my students. To leave them better off than before they met me. To shape them into kind-hearted human beings who could accomplish anything they set their minds to.
But sometimes, having such high expectations leads to discouragement.
We try our hardest, day in and day out, to guide our students into doing the right things and accomplishing the right things. And sometimes (quite often even), things do not go as planned. Sometimes, we fall short.
A student is dishonest with you, or your class forgets the concepts you’ve been working so hard to solidify in their minds. OR, even worse, one student hurts another with their words, or their actions… after we spent so long trying to instill a sense of compassion and integrity within our classroom…
It makes us question our efforts.
“Does what I do actually matter?…”
Trust me.. I’ve had more bad days than I can count. And many times when I’ve asked myself this very same question.
But I want to share a story with you. A story that hopefully will inspire you and remind you that ALL of your efforts really DO matter. They may not matter all in one day, or one week, or even in one school year.
But over time, the little bits of impact are compounded! And great things begin to happen…
I worked at Sherwood Elementary for 6 years, all years spent working in our Special Needs Adaptability Program. Which means, I was lucky enough to establish some amazing relationships with some amazing kids. Many of these students were in my class for multiple years.
There are students from that school and that program whom I will never forget. But one in particular who stands out in my mind. We shared a moment at the end of the 2020/2021 school year that made all those years of struggle worth it for me.
His name is Fadi.
Fadi* is a child on the spectrum. He started in my class when he was in grade 2 and I worked with him on and off until our school closed when he was in grade 5.
Fadi has a twin brother, also on the spectrum, but because of his more aggressive tendencies, was placed in a different adaptability program. Fadi, on the other hand, is quiet, kind, and sensitive.
I was drawn to Fadi right from the get-go because of his love of reading and his calm demeanor. He also became an avid attender of my Mindfulness Club.
Almost every single day that Mindfulness Club was ‘open for business’, he was there. Always the first in line.
He became one of my ‘Mindfulness Leaders.’
Quite often, I’d find Fadi alone out in the playground or in the field with a book in his hand, calmly holding a Yoga pose. Tree pose is a favorite of his.
Sometimes, with my adaptability students, it was tricky to tell if Mindfulness helped them in the ways I hoped. It was tougher to assess- because each day with these guys was different from the last.
But on our very last day of school (last day for the staff anyways, our students finished the day before), we all proceeded out of our schools front doors to have our final staff meeting farewell near the playground.
On my way out of those doors, I noticed Fadi, standing there with his Mom and brother. They seemed to be waiting to hand out year-end gifts for his classroom teachers.
Looking as handsome and grown up as ever, he proceeded to walk towards me, clutching something in his hand.
I was confused.
“I’m not his classroom EA this year… Why would he be coming to see me? Why would he be dropping off something for me?”
Because our school was closing, Fadi was making the move to a new school for the following year, and he was here to express his gratitude to the educators who made a difference in his years at Sherwood.
“Miss T, I have this for you..” He handed me an envelope. His mom standing behind him, tearing up, proud of her little man and what he’d become.
I opened it. And it read:
I felt instant tears stream down my face. I understood exactly what his Mom felt, because, I too, was so proud of the boy he became.
And in this one instant, I understood that all my efforts actually did make a difference.
Regardless of how hard and trying some days were, how challenging some kids were. I wouldn’t take back any part of it. Not a single day.
Because all of those hard days led up to this one moment.
And so, before you begin questioning all of your efforts and asking yourself if what you do really matters, I challenge you to think of just one kiddo… One kiddo you know that has crossed your path and left for the better…
Would you take back all of your efforts just because you only helped one kiddo?
Hell no you wouldn’t! You do what you do because you want to have an impact, you are here to help.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the influence we have on others, but I’m here to remind you that:
You DO make a difference.
And it doesn’t matter if it’s only 1 kid, or 10 kids.
At the end of the day, you made someone’s life better just by being in it.
And that, my friends, is a beautiful impact to have on the world..
*Student name changed to protect identity
The Starfish Story
By: Loren Eiseley
In my first year at Sherwood Elementary, our principal shared this beautiful story with our staff. It serves as a beautiful reminder about how even the smallest gesture can make the biggest difference… to someone...
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean.
Approaching the boy he asked, “Young man, what are you doing?”
“Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die,” the boy replied.
The man laughed to himself and said, “Do you realize there are miles of miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference.”
After listening politely, the boy bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the surf. Then, he smiled at the man and said, “I made a difference to that one.”