Today I watched some news highlights of Dallas Cowboys training camp 2014. It reminded me of a day back when my son was 10 years old. He was attending his first Cowboys training camp. He stood at the fence and watched as the players went through their drills, just waiting for the end of the camp and the chance to get an autograph from one particular player. He was his hero back then. He watched him every week, knew all his stats, and was so thrilled this day to be able to experience a moment with this guy. It’s hot in July, in Texas. But the discomfort and heat meant little compared to being able to see, and be acknowledged by, his hero. He wanted to grow up to be just like him!
Did you know that to many students, you are a hero? You are who they want to grow up to be like. They watch you, they listen to you. You may be a parental figure to some, or a role model, or a friend. Each day our students come to school is an opportunity for us to “see” them. To become a part of their lives. To let them know that they are appreciated and that they are important. Because something magical happens for a kid when their hero makes that connection with them.
When my son graduated from high school and joined the Army, he found new heroes. And when he deployed to Iraq in 2009, he found himself being called by that name quite often. Once, in a restaurant while home on R&R, by a stranger who paid for his meal. And I heard him reply,
“Thanks, but I’m not a hero. Heroes change the world – like teachers. I just followed orders”.
Like teachers. It brought a tear to my eye. The man went on to tell him, that he fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. That heroes come in many different forms. And that to some, he did change the world. Their world.
As educators, we have the opportunity to make someone’s day every day! Teachers really do change the world – through the lives we impact. The confidence we can help build in students. The sense of importance we can bestow on each and every student. The development of things like grit, and growth mindset, and perseverance – we have the chance to shape these each day.
It might be the daily “hello” you give that student who isn’t even in your class, or it might be daily conversations with those who are in your classroom, but there are students who would go through anything just to have that acknowledgment, that relationship with you. To make you smile, and to matter to you – as you matter to them.
Because whether you know it or not, you are a hero to someone.
Really love it when I write a post that lends itself to a David Bowie tune! Thank you for the many heroic things you do for kids every day. I hope you all have a great new school year!