Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feeling Pretty Small

It never ceases to amaze me at the influence of teachers in our lives. It is absolutely scary! In all the years I taught, I can only hope that I never hurt the self-image of any of my students. It is almost certain that I hurt some feelings at least once. But students are not the only ones who can be hurt. Teachers have feelings too. No, our skins are NOT as thick as rhinocerous hide. Whether it is a comment from another teacher or some remark by a student, we all have feelings sitting out there on the sleeve not too far from our hearts.

Yesterday we hosted a luncheon of four friends who we got to know over the years as I taught. John is the sweetest and most humble person I have ever met. But he was the most patient man I have ever known as a teacher. Quietly pointing out how to accomplish each step of a task, he encouraged hundreds of students to 'learn to learn' on their own. He refused to do their work for them because he knew that they would have to be able to do it for themselves on the job. He reminded them of that truth daily. He retired this past spring, and it was a great loss to our group.

Phil had been working on his doctorate for some time, and we have all been calling him Dr. Phil for quite a while. He would grin and take everything in stride. Now he has been hired on by the local university to work as a full-time faculty member. He will be a great asset to that faculty. He taught Fang how to understand so much about computers and even how to make one of his own. Now if I had only been able to teach Fang how to do touch typing....

We all wondered how Dr. Phil had remained so calm during the past year after our favorite director retired. Well, the secret is out! When someone is sending nasty e-mails, just don't read any e-mails from that person. That works!

Cheryl taught business classes for six years and now is doing placement for the two days of the week that she is at the school. The rest of the time she is the youth minister for her church, a Girl Scout leader, a mother, a wife, and a new room builder with all that entails. In fact, one of the reasons for our friends' visit was to see the new office that Fang built for us. Next meeting will take place at Cheryl's house to see her new sun room. The day she was here she had cut 26 ceramic tiles and had 26 more to go.

It seems we all are builders in one way or the other. John is remodeling a house; Phil just remodeled a new home for his family. It is always great to feel a sense of accomplishment.

All of these friends have been teachers for years. I know that each has a love for teaching and a very real regard for their students. That is why it hurts so much to hear that a student has been made to feel small by comments from teachers. Words can raise us to another level; they can also take us to the depths of hell--IF WE LET THEM. Something Elenore Roosevelt said belongs here: We can only be made small--or whatever other injury someone intends--by others if we LET them.

The man who is featured in the news clip from this link reminds me that we don't have to be to feel small. Note that at the last part of the message, his life work has a dollar value for at least one other person. Not to say that a person's value has to be in dollars! I just don't believe that for a minute. But isn't it something that some people who received lemons can make such valuable lemonade.

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