Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Little Things Make Great Impact

“We are driven by the notion that we might just make a difference in the lives of a handful of kids over the course of our careers.  And the best part of our gig is that each new day is FILLED with moments that have the potential to be powerful.”

This reminded me of things that I would do for students but have forgotten about it until years later, a former student reminded me of something that I did. At the time, I didn’t think it was anything major and even at the time wondered if the students cared. Now when I hear about it, I’m glad to know that it mattered. I may not have known about it at the time but it obviously mattered to some of the students.

Every high school teacher had a homeroom and usually these students were not in any of my special ed classrooms. I would see them for about 10 minutes every day. I was also the first person to see their report card before they saw them. On report card day, I would get to school about 30 minutes earlier and add a post-it note on each report card. I would write a positive comment to those who did really well and encourage others who were struggling. I didn’t judge or blame anyone for their low grades but tried to show that I cared about them and hoped that they would work hard to improve their grade next time. When I saw improvement, I would comment how their hard work was paying off.

Sometimes my students had working parents who just didn’t have enough time to say the right words that my students needed. I hoped that my small comments would show them that I cared. I watched their faces as they got their report cards and some smiled when they read my comments and others didn’t make any kind of acknowledgement. It was just knowing that I tried that was important to me.

Years later, I came across a former homeroom student at the store. He mentioned to me that he remembered I would take the time to comment on his report cards and it was my encouragement that helped him keep on trying. He wasn’t an A student but knowing that I would see his grades and be disappointed if they dropped was enough incentive to keep him from failing. He said he was really proud when I noticed that he made improvements. I have to confess that I don’t really remember this student but I’m glad he remembered me.

Sometimes it isn’t the big gestures that are remembered. It isn’t the big gestures that always make a difference. And sometimes we may never know the impact the little gestures make but I know it is worth the time to make them.

What small things do you do that you hope make an impact? Please share.

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