It’s hard to imagine a profession whose impact is quite as far reaching as teaching. Every single working day they have the opportunity to affect a child, even in the most subtle of ways. Whether teaching little ones as they enter the school or whether teaching young adults as they exit the system, teachers have a chance to help shape the way that people look at themselves and the world. Today, I tip my hat to those in the front lines of the school,. Teachers – you amaze me.
Just to drive home the point, I’ll share with you an anecdote from my own experience. I was out with a few friends awhile back when a stranger approached me from out of a crowd. It was a tall young man, likely in his late thirties with a confident, competent look on his face. I didn’t recognize him in the least when he asked if I was Mr. Dempsey, his old grade four teacher. I admitted I was, not knowing what would be the result of this confession. He shook my hand and began to tell his story of the impact I had made in his life. This young man was in one of the first classes I had ever taught in my career. I had been a good ten years younger than this lad when he would of had me. He told me that he still remembered the wonderful year he had spent in grade four and how the joy that he experienced in school then, formed a lot of the way he looked at school to this day. He spoke of projects we had done, field trips, and laughter. It was a proud moment for me.
But here’s the thing, I’m not clear on what it was exactly that I had said or done to impact this young man so deeply. I’m not alone in this. When I speak with other teachers, they have the same experience. Ex-students come up to them to recall moments from their classes, but these memories are blurry. I mean really, I’ve been in the field for over 30 years . . . that’s a lot of lessons and a lot of kids. My point is this, teachers have profound, lasting impact on kids – good and bad. To quote Todd Whitaker “The best thing about being a teacher is that you matter. The hardest thing about being a teacher is you matter every day.”
I wish no disrespect to other professions who also have tremendous impact. Politicians matter for their time in office. They shape the laws and policies which guide our country in a positive life affirming way. Nurses and doctors have tremendous responsibility and face crisis on a daily basis. They save lives and are there when people are at their worst. Police officers have an ever increasingly complex job. They often deal with the most difficult people in society at their worst. They do so in a way which helps preserve our way of life.
All of those people matter but today I tip my hat to teachers. They have a huge role in helping to shape the thinking of tomorrow. Knowing the teachers that I do, the world is in great hands.
Keep on learning!