This week a wonderful thing happened. World-famous performer Adele, when asked about someone who had inspired and supported her when she was young, readily spoke about a teacher who changed her life.
From out of the crowd came the lovely Ms. McDonald, who embraced Adele and told her how proud she was of her.
Right before the surprising reunion, Adele shared with the intimate crowd about her high school English teacher.
“She made us care, and we knew that she cared about us.”
This is really what teaching is all about for most of us educators. The moments we know we made a difference. That our work, dedication, and passion for educating and loving our students does, indeed, change the world.
The ripple effects of educators cannot and should not be understated and overlooked. An author and educator I admire, Jeffrey Benson, penned an article almost 10 years ago that examined the critical role of educators in terms of 100 repetitions.
In short, Jeffrey explained that it may take 100 useful repetitions to support our students in coping with rough days and learning new skills.
They may not complete their learning with us during the time we have with them. Maybe we’ve gotten them through 20, 30, or 40 repetitions—maybe only from 5 to 10, but we persevere.
This week something wonderful happened to me personally.
As I sat in my daughter’s IEP meeting, I looked around the room at a team of thoughtful, caring, and highly skilled educators who shared with me specific evidence of her academic and social growth.
I could feel the smiles under their masks as they each spoke about how proud they were of her. That word again—proud—just like Ms. McDonald.
These teachers have helped my daughter through countless useful repetitions until she made progress. And while there is still much more to do, I do not doubt that they, too, will persevere because they are making a difference in the lives of the students they teach and love.
I am incredibly thankful for educators. I initially chose to teach as a career because, candidly, when life was difficult at home and navigating adolescence and awkward relationships were so darn hard, there were always teachers who supported me.
My beloved English teachers encouraged me to share my poetry and other writing; one music teacher encouraged me to learn to play the French horn (I wasn’t very good), and one very special teacher, Mr. Ritzenthaler, made me believe I was a mathematical genius.
So much so, that I was the only English major at my university to ever take a 5-hour calculus course—a class I eventually barely passed. Regardless, the priceless ways teachers can see us and our potential well before we can see it ourselves makes them simply magical.