Today marks the final day of my 3rd year teaching. Tomorrow begins the first day of the 4th year. Do you ever wonder whether or not you are making a difference with your students? Well, that's good, because I certainly wonder about it. I wonder if I am creating an environment in which students feel comfortable to take risks? I have been thinking about what students think about my class when they come into the classroom.
I was able to hear a great teacher speak tonight. He talked about the idea of "faithful presence". We were at a dinner, at the president's house, with everyone who attended Lead Retreat, a week-long time of bonding for the student leadership of SNU. Every year, the First Family has everyone over for dinner during this time and Dr. G speaks just a short inspirational word to us. Faithful Presence was his message tonight. Honestly, when I heard that initially, I had no idea what it meant. My take-away message from it was "just being". It doesn't really matter what your job is. It doesn't matter if you are in some kind of leadership position. You can make a difference just by doing the very best that you can in whatever position you find yourself.
The other idea he talked about was "spirit of place". Again, I'd never heard of this. Here's the idea: when you enter a place, you change it's spirit and the opposite is also true. When you enter a place it changes you, too. This leaves me wondering about the spirit of my classroom and thinking about how different it will be tomorrow when student enter. It also makes me think about how students will be changed as a result of being in my classroom. I hope students will be changed in a tangible, meaningful way. I work to purposely create experiences for students that will impact their learning. Often, I fail, but I simply reflect and change what I am doing the next time.
Probably the best part of the whole process is the fact that I am affected by my students, as well. My life is enriched in ways I have never imagined as a result of the interactions I have with students, both at PC High and at SNU. Speaking of SNU, I'm sure I've mentioned that Michelle and I are class sponsors there and our kids are going to be Seniors! Already, we are getting a little sad to see this wonderful group of students prepare to graduate and move on to another chapter in their lives. This is bittersweet. We are thrilled to see them complete their time at SNU, but we are sad to lose them as a regular fixture, sometimes at our house and always on campus. We were a bit reticent to take the job when we were first asked, but I am so thankful we decided to say yes! Getting to know students outside the classroom is a completely different dynamic.
So, to sum up, what are you doing that makes a difference? Hopefully, you are being solid and stable for your students. They need your "faithful presence". Additionally, I hope your classroom is a place that changes students in a positive way. If its, not, I hope you reconsider what you are doing.