- Delta, British Columbia, Canada
- I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
The Compassionate Teacher
I received this today and it moved me so much because I actually did this little exercise for our graduating Grade 7 students the first year I started teaching at my current school. These students would now be in first year university, and I often wonder if they still have those pieces of paper I made up for them.
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. She never knew if they 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 group of students moved on.
Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him 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 Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded. "Yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."
After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.
"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."
Opening the billfold, he 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 Mark's classmates had said about him.
"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."
All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."
Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."
"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, 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 Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.
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 day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.
Remember, you reap what you sow. What you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.
Last year I implemented something for my Grade 4 students that I call "SONSHINERS." Every Monday morning, each child draws a secret "Sonshiner Pal" and is to make a point (secretly) to play with them, pray for them, help them with something, etc. Then on Thursday, they write a note (on special yellow notepaper) to their pal to compliment them on something they noticed throughout the week. Examples: "I really enjoyed your book talk. It made me want to read the book, too." "You were so kind to that kindergarten student who fell off the swing." "You are really good at hockey." "Thank you for helping me with my Math." On Friday, the kids can hardly wait to read their notes before they glue them in a special notebook and respond to the compliment they received that day. At the end of the year, each child takes home a book of special memories from all their schoolmates.
This month, I've also started a new program called "Taking Steps Towards Tolerance and Compassion." Along with drawing a Sonshiner pal for the week, the kids draw a T&C token. This gives them a suggestion for something to do that will help them to understand about tolerance and compassion. Examples: "Give your Mom and Dad a high five every day this week and say 'I love you.'" "Choose someone you don't know very well and find out about 3 special customs and traditions that they follow at home." "Choose someone you know who is a compassionate person and write 3 sentences that show how that person illustrates compassion towards others." When the kids complete their T&C, they receive a paper "shoe" that they decorate with their example of tolerance and compassion. I'm planning on putting these shoes along the halls in the school so the Grade 4 class can set an example of how to show these traits to other classes. The goal is to go all around our floor and down the stairs to fill the bottom level. I hope we can do it!
May Your Day Be Blessed And As Special As You Are