Sunday, November 9, 2014

None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots. ~Thurgood Marshall

Have you ever seen a human pyramid?  High school and college cheerleaders are absolutely amazing with their agility and strength, and each person does his part in raising another to the next level. Then, the exuberance of the person at the top is always fun to watch.  I think seeing a pyramid made of human beings supporting each other is not only a fun event to watch, but also a great analogy for life and success.

In many ways, succeeding in life is like building a human pyramid.  No matter how hard a person  works on the way to the top, he still needs others to support the climb; no one can make it to the pinnacle alone. 

Many people are involved in a person's success, whether it be in writing recommendations; teaching  "the ropes" in a new position;  making introductions to the right people; contacting others to promote talents; or speaking positively to others.  Ultimately, if you do make it to the top of the pyramid, many people supported you as you climbed the ladder.

Teachers seem to be among the best boosters and supporters, giving a "leg up" to send students to the top. Throughout my career and the careers of my colleagues, we often discussed the behind-the -scenes work we did for our students to help them to be successful. As a faculty, we offered many skills and services to our students:  writing  recommendations, correcting college essays, nominating students for awards, making students aware of scholarship opportunities, telephoning or emailing potential employers, and tutoring for hours after school until the light bulb of understanding turned on.

I loved being able to do all of these things for my students.

Even now, I revel in the successes of the men and women my tenth graders became.  So do my colleagues.  I was out with some teachers friends on the weekend, and the talk turned to the pursuits and successes of many of our former students.

We are SO PROUD that we could help some of our students make it to the top.  We are thrilled that maybe, just maybe, something we did helped these students move up another level on the pyramid of success.

Perhaps this piece has made you think about a teacher who helped you to become successful. Think of how wonderful it would be for both of you if you could reconnect with that teacher and share your appreciation for their part in boosting you up.  I looked up several teachers through the years, because I wanted them to know they made a big difference in my life, as they helped me along my pathway to success. I am so happy I made the effort to say "Thank you."

Even if you are at the top of the pyramid, you should take the time to say thank you.  You should also remember to help others on their way, because that is  how human pyramids work.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions.

Rittman Publishing, LLC

Like my blogs?  My new book STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER, is available at It is a fun and fast read, spoken in first person, with tips and anecdotes all about success and being the best you can be.

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