We don’t always know the impact we have on our students.
Today I attended a Celebration of Life for one of my former teachers. The number of people in attendance – family and friends of course, but also former students and colleagues – is testament to the impact she had on so many.
The stories told highlighted her generosity, her eccentricities, her passion, her love of life. What came through most however, her love of books. She was described as “a goddess of literature” and a teacher who inspired a sense of wonder.
In his work with teachers, John Hattie says, “Know thy impact.” And yet today I was reminded that we can’t always know the exact nature of our impact. We can’t necessarily predict the words that may resonate with our students. We might not even realize a moment that may become significant in a student’s life: we may provide inspiration, much needed discipline, or even a sense of fun, at precisely the right time.
When I was a student in her classroom, Lynn Weinlos could not have known that to see her weep as she read aloud King Lear, sitting atop a student desk, would affect me to this day. Her unabashed love of literature, her unique style of teaching, her fundamental belief in the power of words, influenced me as a teacher, as a writer, and as a person to my very core.
We might not know our precise impact, but we should remember that our students listen and observe us each and every day, sometimes in unexpected ways.
“Know thy impact.”