Thursday, June 11, 2015

What Are You Known For?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot of late, what you are known for. What your reputation is as an educator, as a person? It came back to me again this morning while reading through my Facebook feed. I saw some beautiful words that Kate DiCamillo wrote about having an older dog. (Side note, how does every single thing she writes turn out so beautifully? Facebook status updates – works of art. Seriously.)  When I read Kate’s words, it immediately made me think of my friend, Margie, and her beloved dog, Xena. Anytime I see a dog, I think of Margie. Or also a colleague, Leigh, and her quest to save as many dogs as possible.

This led me to think of other friends and how I always link certain topics with certain people, or certain feelings with certain people. When you begin that line of thinking, you have to begin to wonder, what do people think about you? Right?

As I have mentioned several times, I live in a tiny town. Your reputation often precedes you. I have a feeling that can happen in larger towns as well. I talk to my students about this regularly. Growing up, I didn’t think about this enough. Your actions can speak louder than your words. What you do matters. I want my students to figure this out before I did.

And they are figuring it out. Unfortunately for them, they are often figuring it out in front of a lot of eyes. The world of social media makes growing up hard. I want to make it easier for my beautiful students. I’d love to give them the magic answers, but I don’t think there are any. I think this is something they have to do on their own.

So I turn back to myself. I try so very hard to be a good role model for my students, and for my own sons as well. I try and put forward a positive message. I try and let my fifth graders know me so we can build that relationship that is so very important to our foundation of our year together. And then I wonder, what is it they see? What do they truly know about me? Just the other day, I got a note on Instagram. It told me what I needed to know, how I was seen, and it made my heart happy.

If I am known as a teacher who loved her students, sunsets, and books – I am grateful. I love when students reach out, share their thoughts with you. I love when I am given the chance to know that what I am doing matters. And at the end of a school year, when you are wrung out and questioning if you made the impact that you wanted to in that short year together, this is just the best. Thanks, AJ. You absolutely made my week.

What are you known for? As a teacher, an educator, a parent, a friend? What an excellent tool for reflection. I will be asking my students to write about this question next year.