“A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child,” by Forest E. Witcraft is a quote that most teachers have seen before. I have a coffee mug with those words on it. For a teacher this quote is striking, because it reaffirms why we are teachers. Reading these words makes us feel better after having a bad day at school. However, a hundred years is a long time. It makes me ask a question, will I see the payoff?
As teachers we change lives, few would argue that point. My style, my actions, and my words affect my students. In the short term, maybe I explain a particular concept in just the right way, so even just one of my students understands the concept on the standardized test. I teach third grade in Florida, so in that scenario I may have saved a child a year of their life. They may not be retained because they missed one question on that standardized test. But, I digress… I think teachers really want to know the long-term payoff of their good works.
I believe I am the payoff for Alan Glassman, my high school special education resource teacher. I have a learning disability, so up until tenth grade I could not read even near grade level. Throughout my schooling, I struggled to comprehend grade level material. And I was fantastic at using my disability as an excuse to do the minimum. By high school I even had myself convinced that I just could not do it. I was LD, so I was stupid.
I would like to say Mr. Glassman was a ray of hope, but in truth he was more like a brick wall that I ran into headfirst when I entered tenth grade. He saw right through me. “You have the potential to do more than be an example of laziness,” he said to me. “Wait a minute, what kind of crazy teacher would say that,” I said to myself stunned. I realized later, Mr. Glassman said exactly what I needed him to say. He was the first teacher that actually saw I had potential. He was the first teacher that was straight with me. Mr. Glassman gave me the kick in the butt I needed to become successful. Mr. Glassman taught me the only way I was going to beat my learning disability, was to treat it like a block in the road that I needed to get past. It did not matter if I went around, over, under, or through it –I just needed to get to the other side of it. He made me realize, I just have to find a way.
I know I am at least one positive difference Mr. Glassman made in the world. I know he would be proud of the teacher I am now and the one I still want to be. By being straight with my students and teaching them to find their way to the other side of their blocks in the road, I am carrying out Alan Glassman’s legacy.
Image created by Darolyn Souppa.
A hundred years from now- our homes will all be owned by Bank of Earth, our money will be worthless, our clothes will be dust and teaching will be done by computerized simulations programmed by barely literate outsourced techs.
HOWEVER, the people making the decisions will have been influenced by the teachers of today. It seems that even one truly good teacher can undo years of overworked and/or ineffective teachers.
It appears that you, Mr. Souppa, have something to live up to, to carry on Mr. Glassman’s legacy. Good Luck.
First time reader here. This blog is so right. I am not a teacher but I was affected by ONE that changed my life.
As a kid I learned to read via comic books. Very early in life, still in elementary school, I decided that I wanted to write super hero comics. I never received any encouragement and as I was a slow reader, was told to prepare for that factory job. Then…
Ms. Dorian Trahan happened. She was my 9th grade English teacher. At the end of the school year she approached me and told me that she liked my ideas and the way that I wrote. She was the first teacher (or any adult) that offered me that encouragement. She asked me to join the school newspaper the next year. I was blown away. Thinking about that now, actually makes me “feel” excited and happy now.
Unfortunately, during that summer break, my mother moved us and I never had the opportunity or encouragement again. However, It took me more than a few years but I eventually began to call myself a writer. I write screenplays; I have optioned one and had some interest in others. I have also wrote-produced-directed a short film and am currently working on other projects.
None of that would have been possible if Ms. Dorian Trahan, then Kingman High School English teacher, hadn’t seen some potential in me.
No matter whether the kid is “good” or “bad” a little work and encouragement can change him for the rest of his life.
I was Googling my name and found your comment. How great it made me feel! I copied it and printed it to keep for times when I need to be cheered up. Ha! I hope you are successful with your writing!
You may not even get this from me since the blog is 2 years old, but I just wanted to try.
I’m not sure how successfull of a writer I have become. I did have a screenplay optioned and in pre-production with a $10M budget that was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. I have since become a filmmaker. I have directed 12 short films, one film just played at the Fort Myers Film Festival here in Florida. I am working on my 1st feature. If you check out my links below, pay attention to the name of the teacher in Phobia (the short film was a prequel to the script that was optioned- and then renamed Clinical). You can contact me, if you would like, at IMADANGER@aol.com and I will email you back from a gmail address.
I accidentally came across this and DAMN!!! I agree. My kids have had teachers that son’t seem to care and they used to act like spoiled brats, no matter what me and the Mrs. did. We have moved and got the kids in a new school with teachers that give them encouragement and speak words of favor and the kids are doing much better. Every day we now hear, “Mrs. Fragosa said I could do this, Ms. Biuso helped me with that.”, I would rather hear that then all of the spoiled crap that they used to say.
Rob – Thanks for your comment. It is a hard realization that the kids today have no idea what’s in store for them in the future. And we adults have to prepare them for that!
Donald – That is a very touching story and it encourages me as a teacher to find that something unique in all students and reach out to them.
Wayne – I’m so glad that your kids now have encouragement ringing in their ears! That, plus some challenging pushes in the right direction can really help kids!
Ted, I am so very proud to call you a colleague and a friend. It is teachers like you that do make a difference in the lives of your students. You are the teacher that “shines a little light on things.” Without you, students would not know how to get through the roadblocks of life.
Ted, I’ve seen you grow so-o-o much since your first year as a teacher. It’s great to see someone who takes their job seriously and does a professional job, as well as, being a mentor to your students. I’ve found a soft voice and a soft touch of encouragement is all that many students need these days. I’ve seen so many of my first graders blossom through the year with just a little encouragement and a pat on the back or a thumbs up. They never hear or see anything close to either within their lives outside of school. Keep up the good work!!!!!
Glad there are still teachers motivating kids to follow there dreams. I have 2 kids in grade school and 1 in junior high. My boy has a math teacher that actually got him working. He wants to be a fighter pilot but has bad math skills. I have hope he will do it because of mr. philips his math teacher.
Andrea and Sharon – I am so happy to have Ted blogging here. It is obvious that he is a great teacher and I can tell he is appreciated by his colleagues!
Leon – Thank you for your comment. I have a student like your son: wants to be an Air Force pilot but is struggling in math. My hope is that with encouragement and a push to become self-driven he will get the support he needs in school and at home to follow his dreams. Sounds like your son has a teacher like that now!
I am humbled by the positive comments I have received from everyone here and my colleagues at Tice. The face of education has changed much during the last several years. It has become more difficult to be motivational, when policy meant to increase learning seems like a barrier to make that task more difficult. The education system may take my tenure, they may cut my pay, they may send consultants to criticize, they may mandate the ridiculous, and they may pile my desk with paperwork, but they will never get me. I will always do what is best for my students.
I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I read your last post/comment from this am. I am very proud (blessed) to work with someone who strives to do what’s right for the students. That’s what I attempt to DO everyday! Keep up the great work! Thank you for touching lives & for your mentor Mr. Glasman!
I had the privilege to co-teach with Ted one year. We worked with an intensive reading group of 3rd and 4th grade kids. I also came from an ESE background in high school but back then I did not have the “label” ESE. Ted gave me great insight into how to work with children of less than “perfect” learning abilities.
Ted is strict with his class, but all the students in the end will agree on one thing, he is fair, honest, and impartial on how each student is treated. Way to go Ted!