From them, I discovered seeds that had unknowingly found fertile soil 
and thrived.  Seeds that had sprouted, had become deeply rooted, and had 
bloomed far beyond the confines of the classroom walls, the end of the term, 
and the completion of the college experience into the distant working and 
living realms.  Seeds that would slip under the radar of any traditional, 
subject oriented classroom assessment instrument on learning.  Seeds that moved 
me to tears time and time again as I found out that the character values that 
had come from my soul had found their way to the hearts and actions of others 
throughout their personal, professions, and family lives; values that had 
touched these people and altered the direction of their lives, values that had 
created an inspired and passionate vitality, values which had actually changed 
the world and altered the future.  I felt a profound feeling of deep 
accomplishment, meaning, and purpose.  And, I’ll leave it at that.     

        Well, actually I won’t.  I won’t because even though I am no longer in 
the classroom, contrary to what some think, my experiences, said through the 
students, can teach a lot to those who wish to learn.  I won’t because I 
hearing Misty Copland, I could have sworn she had read my “Teacher’s Oath” and 
been my classes.  She talked about the need for a conscious daily renewal of 
passion in order to stay away from the rut of dulling routine, of the need for 
what I call “the three ‘-tudes” of  attitude and aptitude and fortitude, of 
having hard and demanding fun at whatever we’re doing.  I won’t because these 
past students represent a need to comprehend, understand, and empathize with 
each student, each of whom comes into class walking on a different road.  I 
won’t because most of us reveal an ignorance of the latest research on brain 
development when we proclaim “They are adults” as if these college kids had 
suddenly metamorphosed from being quirky juveniles in high school to being 
rational adults in college two months later.  I won’t because these students, 
and goodness knows how many unknown others, demonstrate that while you cannot 
motivate people, you can inspire them to reach for their stars; that you can 
help students help themselves to break out of their confining prisons with your 
heart;  that you can help them circumvent constricting boundaries with your 
spirit; and, that you can see hidden realities with soulful eyes; that you can 
be that person who can help each student help her/himself strive to become the 
person he or she can become.  

        As they talked to me, their words struck my heart like bolts of 
lightning and reverberated through my soul like claps of thunder:  “It had 
everything to do with life, not just this class, and how I was going to use it 
and live it”…. “ You were a challenge to take a risk and make mistakes….” “It 
wasn’t just a history class, it was a class in the human experience, my human 
experience…” “We replaced the word ’stranger’ with ‘friend’ and ‘family’ so we 
would risk doing stuff we wouldn’t have done otherwise…” “That class was full 
of such support and encouragement I never felt in another class.”   “The class 
was good for my soul, and made me a better person and prepared me to be a 
better businessman, parent, and husband.”  “You could touch the energy in that 
class.  It was challenging and light hearted, demanding and easy-going, serious 
and smiling and laughing all at the same time because we were friends and 
family.  And, I never let it slip away in anything I did.”  “It was so much fun 
learning, serious fun, that it all seemed so ‘easy’…”  “There was so much love 
and trust in that class room….taught me a lesson about life inside and outside 
my profession.”  “I found confidence and self-esteem in that class.”  “I could 
make a mistake and learn from it instead of being crucified for committing it.  
So, I took chances and learned a lot about who I was and what I am capable of 
doing, most of which I diddn’t know before I came into your class.”  “That 
class helped me see that a challenge was a possibility and opportunity, not a 
barrier.”  “The class was just plain magic.”  And, on and on and on it went.

        These students are the visible embodied result of living my “Teacher’s 
Oath” in and out of the classroom.  They told me that I was right to see that 
while technology and pedagogy were important, we shouldn’t focus on them to the 
exclusion of focusing on the humanity of the individual and unique student; 
they told me that the classroom is a human world, not an information 
transmitting and receiving station; they told me that faith, hope, and love are 
antidotes to toxic dehumanizing perceptions and expectations generated by 
herding stereotypes and generalities and labels of students that poisoned every 
well;  they told me that faith, hope, and love lift and ennoble each moment; 
they told me that faith, hope, and love forge a safe haven with unconditional 
and non-judgmental respect, kindness, caring, empathy, compassion, support, and 
encouragement. 

        I’ll end this reflection with portions of two messages I recently 
received from two of those students.  One was in classroom nineteen years ago 
and is now special education teacher:  “I want you to know you were my unspoken 
mentor.  After reading over and over and over your ‘Teacher’s Oath’ that you 
just sent me, once again, I know why.  I alway felt you were teaching to me, 
that your caring eyes were always on me.  You noticed and cared about me, and 
were kind and patient with me,  in class like no one else had done because of 
my ADHD.  Saying it wasn’t enough for you or me.  You always had time for me.  
You always read word for word what I wrote in my journal.  You always acted in 
that way, especially through your active loving support and encouragement.  I 
learned to trust you enough to pour out my heart and get things out into the 
open air through my journal entries.  You were always showing you loved me, had 
faith in me, and had hope for me, and I should start having confidence and 
believing myself.  I remember you writing the ‘Words For The Day” on the 
blackboard that said 'Everyone has “dis-ability” and “dat-ability,” and don’t 
believe otherwise.’  I have been reading those words every day in the morning 
since.  That became and still is my motto in life.  It is the core of my 
teaching and living.”   The second student, who was in class twenty-four years 
ago, wrote:  “That trust fall and the singing in front of people—I sang the 
Flintstones theme—and the hands on projects using the class material in the 
triads all started teaching me a lot about myself, about trusting myself and 
others, and about respecting myself and others.  They gave me such a confidence 
build up that I truly needed and helped me start overcoming my fear-based 
shyness.  You made a heck of a difference in my life, how much I didn’t realize 
at the time.  I’m still ‘taking’ trust falls and ’singing’ in front of people, 
in a manner of speaking.  You taught me that learning, real learning, goes on 
and on beyond the classroom and college into myself.  And now, I see to it that 
it goes into all around me.  Every now and then you pop into my mind and what 
you once called ’the three -tudes in life’:  attitude, aptitude, and 
fortitude,’ and that the most important is ‘attitude.’  I haven’t thought about 
them in a while, but after seeing and talking with your. I see they’re still 
always there inside and with me.  I realize  I never really forgot them and am 
always using them, and helping my co-workers and, above all, my children to use 
them.…”

---
You are currently subscribed to tips as: arch...@mail-archive.com.
To unsubscribe click here: 
http://fsulist.frostburg.edu/u?id=13090.68da6e6e5325aa33287ff385b70df5d5&n=T&l=tips&o=52296
or send a blank email to 
leave-52296-13090.68da6e6e5325aa33287ff385b70df...@fsulist.frostburg.edu

Reply via email to