Monday, April 20, 2015

“The job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.” -- Joseph Campbell

I was fortunate to have a radio interview on a show for authors on Friday, April 17, with POP (Power of Perception) Radio.  The interviewer's name was Scott Goldman, a wonderfully articulate young man with good questions and opinions.  He was so interesting, and we had such a good discussion, that the one hour interview felt to me to be about 10 minutes long. We had a good conversation, just like two old friends, and you know that time speeds by when the conversation and company are good. 

Scott and I formed a very quick rapport, and he revealed later in the interview that he had a special teacher influence him and make him what and who he is today.  I am a marshmallow for stories like his, because as you know, I have always been a student's best advocate as well.  I want to share his story, share what  it meant to me, and how Scott's story can apply to you as a teacher.

During our interview, Scott Goldman shared on air that he has a problem with physical limitations and a learning issue, regarding grammar and writing.  He did not identify or give any more details than that, other to say that he had an English teacher in the 1990's who treated him in a different manner than she treated the other students.  You see, Scott was the first student in his district to be mainstreamed several years before, and at the beginning of the mainstreaming process, some teachers were fearful, apprehensive, or unwilling to deal with students they perceived as "different.". Because Scott is so bright, he saw through this teacher with her "I will just pat him on the head and look through him and pretend he is not there" mentality, so he asked the principal if he could change teachers.  This question was a great move on his part, because his next English teacher was a person who saw him for what he was, a bright student.  She challenged him and treated him just like all of the other students. Scott and the teacher formed a strong bond of respect and rapport, and she advised him that since he had some limitations with physical movement and writing, that perhaps he should think about a career in television or radio.  She helped Scott to identify his strengths and abilities, rather than focusing on his disabilities.  I love that teacher, when I don't even know her, and I love what she did for this young man. She helped a student to become an articulate and well-spoken man, whose voice is clear and beautiful and rhythmic, and whose word choice is so precise and exact that it sounds to me like poetry.  This special second teacher changed one young man's life by helping him to find his confidence, his niche, and his life's work. What a wonderful success story, for both the teacher and the student.

In my 37 years of teaching, I always tried to be like Scott's second English teacher, and so did most of my colleagues. We loved guiding our students and helping them to find their strengths.  For all of us, teaching was a true calling, and our reward was helping students to be successful, one student at a time.

I know I have many readers who are teachers, and all of us enjoy stories like Scott's, and we love it when the underdog comes out on top! Teachers have great power, as Hiam Ginott said in his book Between Teacher and Child : "As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration."

Choose to be the instrument of inspiration.  Always choose to inspire every day, because you don't know just who will be inspired, and the heights he will reach.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Here is a link to the interview:

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