Last night, it was back to school night. My first one as a 7th grade English teacher. Now speaking in front of students, no problem, even speaking in front of large groups of people is ok. But parents? Terrifying! Not because I think they don’t like me. Not because I don’t think they are open-minded. Not because I think they are critical, over-involved, or demanding. Quite the opposite indeed. They terrify me because they care. because they entrust with their child every day. Because they hope that I will protect the curiosity of their kid every single day. Taht i will damage, but rather enhance the child that comes to me every day. I do not take that responsibility lightly.
When it was over, a few hung around to introduce themselves. Many had kind words, telling me how their child is already loving English. How they saw their child read and actually like it for the first time in a long time. How they cannot wait to see how their child grows this year. Thank you and whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.
As I drove home, those words echoed within me, wrapped my head in thought as I woke up at 12:30 unable to sleep. I don’t think these parents know what those words mean to me. I don’t think these parents have any idea of what effect small words can have on a teacher. How big of an impact a greeting and a few sentences can have. Whether they be kind or inquisitive, harsh, or probing. The words we pass on to our child’s teachers matter, sometimes more than our actions do.
I get to teach children every day. I get to help them grow. I get to help shape their dreams. I get to help them decide whether reading is something they are good at or bad at. Whether they are a writer or not. I may be trying to change the world, but what happens within my classroom is what matters most. What I do with kids and to kids is what matters most. So those parents who stopped by just to say hi and thanks; those small words make a big difference, those small moments make a big impression. When was the last time you made a difference in another teachers life?
I am a passionate teacher in Wisconsin, USA, who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.