This year, I was fortunate enough to come across Each Kindness by Jacquelin Woodson. (Actually, it was more deliberate than fortunate since I’m a fan of most anything that she writes.) After reading this simple yet powerful picture book, I scheduled times to share the book with several classes at school. My focus was reminding students how much each act of kindness counts and reminding them that tomorrow is never a guarantee.
Recent events in my life have reminded me that these ideas also apply to educators. I’ve heard many stories about how one teacher forever changed the life of a child by small acts of kindness. My heart was warmed by each story for a moment and then I returned to the real world of standards-induced stress and challenging students–a real world where it is sometimes had to continually make the effort to make a difference. Sometimes I’m worn out or frustrated, and it’s hard for me to make a difference when I am dealing with my own personal issues. Yet even then, my students need my best. Marva Collins said it best when she said, “Our children deserve our best selves.” (I’m quoting what I remember from her book, Marva Collins’ Way. The gist is right even if the wording isn’t exact.)
Another theme of Each Kindness is that time is of the essence: I am not guaranteed to have tomorrow with any of my students. Today, as families are more transient than ever, it is possible that the words I speak to a student today may be the last that I ever speak to him/her. Today may be my last day to encourage any of my students with kindness. If that is the case, did I do my best today to make the life of every one of my students a little better? In the word of Rita Pierson at her TED talk, “Is this job tough? You betcha. . . But it is not impossible. We can do this. We are educators. We are born to make a difference.”
Best of luck to all the educators as we prepare to return soon to the classroom to make this the best year of our careers. Make a difference every day.
(see Dr. Pierson’s full TED Talk here http://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion.html)