A reflection written by Caryl Clem
Thanksgiving season is a great time to reflect on the blessings in our life. Not all blessings are tangible because I am grateful for the time I spent in classrooms during my life.
As I walked to school as a child thinking the cold stern brick building with unblinking eye windows appeared formidable. I soon discovered that classrooms are alive with caring and sharing. I thrived in the small town classes. Kids on phones are missing out on the secret note passing experience.
Magically through the years, friendships are at the top of the blessings list. I doubted my continued career in education then a birthday gift changed my mind. A small picture frame contained a big moment in life message: “ One Hundred from now…it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a CHILD.
Every time I view this silver framed jewel, like a movie reel inside my head a past teachers’ voice and smile surfaces. “I had talent. I must never give up. Believe in yourself and your potential. Stay positive.” The same advice I carried into my classrooms.
When I asked my Dad for guidance on how to manage students, he thoughtfully replied: humor, compassion, preparedness. He said his favorite teacher opened every class with a joke, or some thought provoking comment. I remembered my Dad’s classroom with an array of Salada tea bag sayings, quotes or Peanuts’ cartoon plastered on a bulletin board. Dad urgently stated, “Listen to every student’s story, they need to feel you are on the same page with them.”
Years later, a few students have updated stories left unfinished when they graduated. A former gang member had a scholarship in Criminal Justice. Another former gang member, now a mentor working with the Sheriff’s Department. Students who thought college was not possible became college graduates. A determined male teen opened a successful business with his older brother. Years of stories have convinced me the majority of students win in the Game of Life.
I am thankful for all the teachers who know the unbeatable formula, combine your heart and soul with the science of learning. A classroom is so much more than a backpack with textbooks.
(the glass is available at ETSY)