I was listening to a student who had struggled in school share an important story. She shared that every single day she was in school, a teacher, who had never taught her at any point in her academic career, would say “hi” to her and address her by her name. What seems like a simple gesture, the student went on to say, saved her and helped her push to continue. She told me that his acknowledgment every day gave her confidence and would light her up so that she would keep going.
Whether we “teach” the students in our schools or not, they are all our responsibility. This is not limited to teachers. My elementary school custodian Mr. Rohrke would greet myself and my friends with a warm welcome and smile each day. He made a difference in my attitude toward each day, and I don’t think he ever knew. These moments matter.
From “Innovate Inside the Box“:
“So how do we create those positive encounters—the kind that last throughout the day and, more importantly, make an impact for years to come? It starts by being intentional about the words we use and the way we follow up on them with our actions. No matter what you teach, your students aren’t likely to remember every lesson, but they will remember how you spoke and acted toward them and how you made them feel.
There is no getting around the fact that your actions and words are so important. That’s true for everyone, but if you are in education, it’s something that cannot be understated or forgotten. Your words—whether harsh, inspiring, degrading, or kind—can stick with people for the rest of their lives. Don’t ever forget that.”
This student reminded me that one simple gesture from someone who had never taught her could make all of the difference.