Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pep Talk

My daughter Grace and I had a little meeting with her U.S. Government teacher, Mr. Blackburn, today. I expected to go into his classroom after school and possibly be reprimanded for not micromanaging my daughter enough, for not checking the teacher's website on a daily basis, and for overall lack of disciplining my sophomore student. It's not that Mr. Blackburn's teaching style is such, but the community where I live tends to promote helicopter parenting. We baby boomers are good at that. Luckily for Grace, and for me, I was dealt a few more challenges than I could handle as a single parent so there's no time for tracing the very steps of my four children. All I can do is encourage them to do their best work.

Mr. Blackburn must have been a motivational speaker in his former life. As I prefaced our conference with the challenges of this past month in our home and their effect on Grace, he looked right at my spunky teenager and gave her exactly the connection she needed. He let her know that he genuinely believed in her. There was no shame or deposition, merely a candid discussion of choices and how one's best performance in school can open doors later in life. This teacher is beyond generous with his time, and not shy about sharing his own story of under-performance in high school. He even promises to pique the students' curiosity by including in the course curriculum his real-life example of brushing with the law.

Teaching well can be learned in a credential program, but truly influencing a young person's life requires the ability to understand the nature of the individual. As Mr. Blackburn confided to us today, he would not be a very good teacher if he did not care deeply about each student in his five classes. He told Grace how happy he was for the choices he made, even for the mistakes, that led him to the abundant life he now has. No teacher could say this without sincere dedication to the work of educating minds and hearts. I'm still a little concerned with the grade my youngest child will earn in U.S. Government, but merely sitting in that classroom this year is bound to be full of "life lessons," priceless morsels from a teacher who cares.

1 comment:

A. Verzello said...

If all teachers really knew the impact they could have on their students, many more lives would be changed for good.

I really enjoy reading your blog about service, especially to get glimpses into the fun family happenings in California.

I miss you!