Who is your starfish? 

I’ve been asked a few times about the starfish that appear behind me in videos and maybe you’ve noticed them too!

There’s meaning there and I can’t wait to tell you more.

The significance to these starfish actually have something to do with SEAL: Social-Emotional Artistic Learning.


Starfish Story!


Maybe you know this story? It goes a little something like this:

To begin, a boy was walking along the beach where there were thousands of starfish all over the beach.  He was walking by all the starfish and one by one throwing them back into the ocean. 

Then, there was an old man and he was pondering what this boy was doing.

He actually went over to the boy and asked, “What are you doing?  How are you possibly going to do all this work and make a difference to the starfish?’ 


In the end, the boy took one starfish and threw it into the ocean saying, “I made a difference to that one.”


Now, as teachers the story is pretty significant because in our career we see thousands of students.  We see them in our classrooms, in hallways, out in the world, the list goes on!  We end up putting on our teacher hat, right?


This story really talks to the idea that we have this power and responsibility to really make a difference in our students lives.


Sometimes, we know when that’s happening but often times we don’t.  Sometimes it takes years for us to know if we’ve actually made a difference in a child’s life.  But the thing is – we do – and we make that difference with our actions and our words as much as with the activities we provide!

So, do YOU have a starfish?  Let me know in the comments!


One of My Starfish


One of my starfish was revealed to me just a couple of years ago when I was in the grocery store.  A boy, actually a man Dan, was over by the lettuce when I recognized him.  He immediately smile and called my name.  He had been a 6th grade music student of mine.  I went over to talk and catch up with him and that’s when he told me a story of when he was in 8th grade.  

During his 8th grade year he had a teacher who he felt just didn’t like him. 

You know, Dan was a little bit of an obnoxious 8th grade kid.  He even admitted it. But, he said that he remembered a time when he and I were chatting in the hallway before lunch and that another teacher happened to be there as well.  In that moment, whatever I said to Dan, or however I said it, affected what that other teacher thought of him. 

He said from that day on she started treating him nicer.

What a nice thing for him to share, right?  And the funny thing is that I don’t even remember that happening.  But, of course that’s not what matters.  

What matters is that he remembers and it matters that it made a difference for him.


It really is all about the small things that we do on a daily basis for our students, our own kids, with the adults around us that really can make a difference.


Stay Mindful and Remember the Impact that You Have!


Now, of course, sometimes we don’t get to know the difference we make in students’ lives.  But our actions are certainly noticed.

Of course, it also works in the opposite way too.  

If we act or talk in a negative way or ignore those starfish it impacts those students who need those small positive nudges.  We are doing a great disservice to them.

And believe me, I’ve been guilty of just that.

Last year I had this wonderful girl.  Her name was Hayden.  She was so talented, smart and beautiful.  I had the privilege of having her for two years. 

I loved all the artwork that she did.  I always encouraged it and I was always looking for ways for her to use her talent.  Add it to an assignment, create something special, do something that we could put in the class, or hang a couple of her pieces in my art gallery in my classroom.

Her mother was sweet enough to write a note and let me know not just how much she’s grown in the time that I’ve had her but my role in that.

It’s so meaningful when parents or families take the time to reach out! 

That’s why it’s so important for us to remember that all the things that we do make a difference. 


A big part of our job, especially now, is to make sure that what we’re doing is positive and that we are helping our students feel acknowledged and appreciated, validated for who they are, and what they can contribute.  


Don’t Forget to Comment about YOUR Starfish


Tell me in the comments if you have a starfish… or two. 🙂

I love hearing the stories of how YOU make a difference in your students lives.





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