Thursday, October 6, 2011

What legacy will you leave when you die? Make it a good one.

Steve Jobs, though gone, will never be forgotten. He’s left his indelible imprint on our daily lives in the way we communicate and connect with the world around us. How many of us can say we’ve been as influential?

One of my favorite posters I keep in my classroom talks about making footprints on the world. Wherever you go, you always leave a footprint. Make it a good one. Usually I use it to talk about leaving the environment in better condition than we found it but it holds true for our daily lives as well. Each day we come into contact with people, we have to chance to leave a lasting impression. Sometimes we’re tired, cranky, and overwhelmed with our own problems and rather than help a stranger, we choose to do nothing, or worse, we lash out and share out anger.

I teach. It’s who I am. I have 37 fragile 5th grade souls that I am expected to nurture each day. They have cranky days. I have cranky days. But the lessons I choose to teach them, go far beyond reading, writing, and math. How I respond to their mistakes, might leave an indelible impression on their hearts that lasts a lifetime.

So do I always respond with a smile? HECK NO! If nothing else, I want my students to learn to act responsibly, even when they don’t want to. I hold them accountable for their actions. Every action. And that means consequences and lots of apology notes and community service.

I want them to think for themselves, not just raise their hands and wait for the teacher to give them the answer or explain how to do the problem. Really think.

And I want them to love whatever they do. I teach with passion, every day. I discipline with passion, every day. I include them in our successes and failures and share with them the things I am passionate about: writing, photography, and dancing. I do all this knowing that my students, and the lives they will lead, will be my legacy.

So whatever you do with your life, be it teaching, writing, or taking fantastic photographs, you will leave a legacy of some sort. Make it a good one.

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