Kenneth Wofford R.I.P.
Creative Commons License photo credit: jpellgen

This anonymous story is titled simply, “Teacher”.

I’ve read this many times and always think it is powerful. We don’t tell others often enough what makes them special, why they are important to us, why we love them. Likewise, we don’t hear from others why we are special.

Hope you can use this in your work and life. I think any group leader could adapt it for children or adults.

Comments:

The fact that you read my blog makes me love you. And since you are a chosen few, it proves you are unique:)

What makes you special? How have others told you or showed you they loved and cherished your unique gifts?

Would this be different for people with disabilities? How do people who don’t talk with words tell you they love you?

Could you use this activity? Like this story?

Please share you thoughts.

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.

All my best wishes,

Mary

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” she heard whispered. “I never knew that I meant anything to anyone?” and “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never knew if the students discussed them after class or with their parents but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another.

That class of students moved on. Several years later, one of the students was killed in the Middle East and this teacher attended the funeral of her former student. She had never seen a soldier in a military coffin before. Her student looked so beautiful, so mature.

The church was packed with the student’s friends. One by one those who loved the soldier took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her.

“Were you Tyler’s math teacher? He asked. She nodded, “Yes.”
Then he said, “Tyler talked about you a lot.”

After the funeral, most of Tyler’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Tyler’s mother and father were there waiting to speak with the teacher. “We want to show you something,” the father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Tyler when she was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”

Opening the billfold, the father carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Tyler’s classmates had said about her.

“Thank you so much for doing that,” Tyler’s mother said. “As you can see, Tyler treasured it.”

All of Tyler’s former class mates started to gather around. Charlene smiled rather sheepishly and said, “My list is in the top drawer of my desk, when I have a hard day I look at it.”

Mark’s wife said, “Mark asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her purse, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued, “I think we all saved our lists.”

That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Tyler and for all her friends who would never see her again. She cried for all students she had ever had in class. The ones she knew did well, the ones who struggled, the ones who she could never figure out. She also thanked God for the inspiration to do an activity that was so simple yet obviously touched her student’s lives.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be. As teachers we work hard, we give our best, and every once in a while we are inspired.

So please think about your future as a teacher. Dream big. You will be in an awesome position to impact your students for a lifetime. Remember, you reap what you sow, what you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.

(Author unknown)

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