School wasn’t something I enjoyed…it was something I endured.
School was never a place of joy growing up. I spend little time reflecting on those years, let alone reminiscing over any fond memories. The frustrations began in elementary school and escalated up and through high school. The highlights seem limited…while the recollections that I do sustain revolve more around the time spent in the office than joyful learning in the classroom.
There were no awards, no honor rolls, no accolades…I was more of a survivor, than a winner in the system.
And for how few of those fond memories I have taken from those many years in the classroom…there are a few that are seared and etched in my memory. And they were neither awards, honor rolls, or accolades…
Rather, they were the off-handed comments, the cutting remarks.
Very few, if any teachers saw my inner potential as an opportunity to tap into…as much as they saw my difficult veneer as something to be rid of. And their comments reflected that disposition. From elementary through high school…I allowed those off-handed comments and cutting remarks to feed and shape my future…my destiny.
Fortunately, my mother set a strong foundation in and for me. A foundation that steadied me when things would come terrifyingly close to coming off the rails. Unfortunately, not all children are given that foundation…
My parents never gave up on me…they endured when it must have been agonizingly difficult and frustrating. They found a way to get me to the next step, the next level. With the help of a long time family friend they stretched their resources and found a way to get me to college.
Though the first year was incredibly difficult, overcoming so many gaps in my education…that foundation my mom set allowed me to eventually flourish and excel in college. And yet, I still had no idea of what I wanted to do…
Which takes us back to the power of our words and how an off-handed comment or remark can change the trajectory of one’s life…for better or worse.
Walking the hallway after class one day, a college friend casually said to me, “You make difficult things seem simple, you should become a teacher.”
That off-handed comment changed the trajectory of my life forever. While, I did not think much of it then…it never left me. It stayed with me…lingering and tugging at me until I eventually went into a profession that I spent so many years fighting against. Back to a place where I was considered “difficult” and “stupid”. Back to a place that held few, if any fond memories.
And while I would never recommend my path to anyone…it has shaped me as the educator that I am today. My difficulties and problems have provided me a depth of empathy and compassion that the winners of the system often have difficulty understanding.
As well as a deep consideration for the power of words…
Our words affect those around us deeply…they have incredible power. Power to change the trajectory of one’s life. For that reason, they must always be considered, reflected upon…and used wisely.
For we never know whose life they will change…
I can connect to this so deeply: my educational experiences parallel yours. I too was not popular w/my peers or teachers. It is so easy to teach the ones who learn despite you. It is truly the gifted teacher who helps you in spite of you. That’s one reason I believe we do what we do, and how we do it: to create a educational environment where less of what we experienced occurs.