This week will bring the school year to a close, and raise the age old question…did we have an impact? What mark did we leave? On Saturday, an interaction with a parent really emphasized for me the ‘six degrees of separation’ and the power we have in communication when we harness it. A mom of one of my vibrant, disorganized, creative, distracted 8th grade boys came into the bookstore (where I have the pleasure of moon lighting a few hours a week).
“Hello, how are you? It’s great to see you” I welcomed her.
“Wow,” she commented, “what a great welcome”. It was then I realized she didn’t recognize me out of the context of school. After browsing, she came to register to purchase some store certificates.
“Aren’t you Chris’s mom?” I asked.
“Yes,” she responded quizzically.
“Hi,” I answered with a smile, “I’m your son’s English teacher, you know me best through email.”
The light of recognition went on, and she gasped, “but one of these is for you.” We smiled, and I assured her while, of course, I would love and appreciate her generosity she certainly did not need to get me a gift as I greatly enjoyed having her son. ”No,” she said, “this is from me. Well you helped him of course too, but it was your weekly emails and encouragement to me I want to thank you for. Many times this year I felt like I had come to the end of my skill set with him and your encouragement, your regular contact really got me through. So I want to get this as my ‘thank you’ to you.”
Her words hit home. They made me think of how we touch students everyday, thinking often about our tone, our message, our interactions but our reach does not end there. We also interact with so many others that build the learning experience for each child. I am glad that this mom found support through our communication, as it also strengthened me, allowing me to know her child through a parent’s eyes, ultimately benefitting her child’s experience and achievement in my classroom. Her words made me realize the importance and power of all of our interactions, with students, siblings, parents, and community members. I feel lucky, it is not often that we get to know the effect of our touch. What a great way to end the year!