I was cleaning out a folder in which I keep a lot of my "teacher stuff" from the last couple of years. In it, I found a short essay I had written a few years ago in response to a question from Project Wisdom . When I read it, I thought how well it goes along with Angela Maier's concept, "#You Matter." This is what I wrote:
Over the years, I am proud to have become one of "those" teachers. You know, the ones parents request every year. They request you because they have heard great things about you from other parents or your colleagues. Or maybe their child persuaded them that your class is where they wanted to be.
One moment in my teaching history stands out, a moment, out of so many, that I have not forgotten. It was the end of the school year, and I was talking to a student who had "requested" me. She was a bright child, very sweet, always polite.
I can't remember what our conversation was about, but I found myself asking her what drove her to ask her Mom to place her in my classroom. I have never forgotten her answer. It wasn't that a friend or sibling told her that I was a great teacher. It wasn't that she had heard great things about all the fun activities that occurred in my classroom. With a beautiful smile on her face, she said, "One day you told me that I had on a pretty dress!"
Wow! She was referring to a time when she was in the fourth grade. I didn't know her, but as I was passing her in the hallway, I complimented her on the dress she was wearing. I'm not kidding when I say I teared up.
We really, truly, do not understand the impact we have on our students! Can you imagine? I complimented her on her dress, and she remembered that a year later! That compliment, a year ago, was enough to make me a teacher she wanted to spend a year with.
It reminded me why I teach, I teach to make a difference.
If one compliment can make such a difference, imagine what we could do, with the 180 days every year that we teach!
Let them know that they matter! It may not be a big deal to you, but it means tons to them!