Legacy. This word came up a few times this past week: at our SAC meeting, in discussion about Helen, in my readings and also as we ran the Terry Fox Run.
Think for a moment about the legacy of Terry Fox. He was diagnosed with cancer and had his leg amputated when he was just 18 years old. Despite his own struggles he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. No one could have imagined the legacy that was beginning to unfold as he took his first steps in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Thirty-one years after he first began his run, over $550 million has been raised in Terry’s name. Though his goal was much more humble, the success of his journey did not happen by accident. Terry brought his passion, formed a plan, showed more persistence than most of us could muster, and the rest is history.
What are you passionate about? How will you leave your mark on this world?
Each of us has the power to influence, inspire and be a positive force in this world. Most of us will not leave a legacy as large as Terry Fox, but as Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
I spent a lot of time this past week with one litle guy in particular. In fact, on Friday I wanted to take him home with me. As I write this I wonder about his safety and wellbeing. When a five year old has seen and experienced so much in his short life… when such a hard shell covers such a fragile interior… when you know that worry and fear take the place of play and joy… it is certainly cause for concern.
Are his demons real or imagined? I’m still in the process of sorting this out. Regardless, I see a little soul dealing with big fears. What can we do or say to ease his worries and help him to trust once again? How can we prevent this angry child from going down the path of violence or addiction? How can we help him to stay positive and hopeful about life?
Though I wonder how we can counter all of his worries, I truly believe that every interaction is important. I will say what I mean and do what I say. I will be consistent. I will maintain his dignity despite the choices he makes. I will convey right and wrong. I will set boundaries and exert discipline. I will show love and empathy.
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Christopher Reeve
Each morning I read a reflection by Robin Sharma. Last week one of the entries was… “Your days are your life in miniature. As you live your days, so you live your life. Don’t waste even a single one of them. ”
During the last two weeks, several individuals I know well, underwent surgery due to cancer. I had some heavy discussions about addiction with one of our students as she deals with alcoholism in her family. A little boy from Sparwood, B.C. was abducted and then miraculously and mysteriously returned to his family. I, like many of you, watched coverage of the September 11th memorial celebrations. Evidently, there is illness, sadness and evil in our world. With all of the heavy issues we deal with, we truly have to enjoy the gift of each day. We do not know what tomorrow brings.
Some things in life are out of our control. And yet, our responses to these events are within our control. We can provide support and love to those undergoing stress and struggles. We can look for beauty in the natural world. We can enjoy, appreciate and articulate our love to those around us. We can find sunshine – triumph, hope and forgiveness – even in the darkest days. We can hold firm in our faith.
Who needs to hear loving, hopeful or caring words in your world today?
What will you do to ensure that you are living your day – your life in miniature – to the fullest?
Last week, after the first day of school, I spoke to a friend teaching grade one. She told me of a little one who exclaimed, “I love making these lowercase h’s!” I also walked into a grade six class at the end of the first day: they were putting away the iPads after using them for the first time.
I’ve taught grade one; I’ve taught grade six; I’ve taught everything in between. Besides the differences in curriculum, there are other differences too -the pacing of the lessons, the level of independence of the students, the amount of time spent planning versus marking. Regardless of the differences however, there is one key factor that unites all teaching: teaching is empowerment.
Why did the grade one student enjoy making h’s? Why did the grade six students have grins from ear to ear? They are learning skills empowering them to participate in the world around them. Whether it be forming the letter h, using technology or reading independently, our students want to be participants in our world – not merely spectators.
Perhaps the most effective teachers are those that empower others… with no strings attached.