Sunday, March 19, 2017

One Person

I've always been a proponent of the power of relationships in learning. My recent experiences and learning confirmed and extended my belief to further pursue a greater understanding of others' impacts on my learning.  

Steve Gilliland stated: "One person, in a single moment, can change and define direction." He followed with the challenge of identifying five people who changed the direction of your life. Who would make your list? Take a moment, right now... the top five people who made the greatest impact on my life are __________.

Chances are an educator made your list. Or at least, a caring adult from your formative years who encouraged you and invested in your success. Someone who saw some genius/talent/skillset that could be ignited and developed.

Three of my five included influences from my younger years:
*Ms. Weber, my first grade teacher, with whom I credit teaching me to read so that the world continues to be open to me because I am literate.
*Mr. Haws, my middle school math teacher who taught me that I could do algebra & geometry, despite my learned helplessness in math during my upper elementary years. He also taught me that daily effort pays off - significantly.
*Coaches Steve Witcher & Jim Nickell (yes- I'm cheating here...2 for 1), my swim coaches who taught me the science of swimming fast. More important, they taught me there was a big difference between being a winner and being a champion.

As I reflect on this list, each of these people taught me specific skills. But more importantly, they stood out to me because of the manner in which they taught me. They believed that I could own the content of their teachings and turn them into something amazing. I believed in them, and because I believed in them, I believed in what they were teaching me. In teaching me, they reinforced this lesson: Relationship and content are both important; and so is the order.

Consider the reciprocity of this influence list: Who would put you on their list?

Recently I heard Dr. Adam Saenz, author The Power of a Teacher, state: "Education did not change my life. Educators changed my life." Given my choice of a career is in education, the statement gave me pause for reflection. Saenz is right on. It's not the school system or buildings, the oversight or administration, or any other formalized education structures of "school." My third grade classroom, my high school facilities, or my college lab did not change the direction of my life. But the adults who led me in those settings did, with their planned lessons & experiences, impromptu life lessons, and in the manner in which to developed me. They changed and improved my life.

I was fortunate to have many; three listed here, but there are certainly more. Unfortunately, too many of our students may not even have caring adult in their life who changes or improves their now and their future. As Rita Peirson taught us: “Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

Each of us can be that one person for someone else. One person can make a difference. One person can change the trajectory. One person can influence culture. One person…