What Education means to me has a great deal to do with relationships. When I look back at the influential people that have taught, guided, and nurtured my learning, the process began early. The teachers, coaches, colleagues, supervisors and peers possessed a joy and passion not only for their craft, but more importantly for those each invited into their craft.
I remember a trio of 5th grade teachers who managed me with a steady, supportive, and firm hand with consistency, fairness, and always, a sense of humor. They were tough! And they were kind, caring, and treated me as one of their own. My eighth grade, middle school math teacher whose patience and respect led me through Algebra I; I finally “got it; ” much due to her. That same teacher gave her time after school to tutor a group of us in Algebra II even after we had moved on to high school.
In high school, I was fortunate to have a physical science teacher who was as tough as they come. What balanced his tough approach was what he expected of me, and always complimented this with fairness, wit, and that “look.” I knew where I stood. I wanted to do well (and no one would be surprised to confirm that I was not interested in the field of physical science; at the time, of course!), and doing well with him was important!
I was lucky to attend boarding school for three years in New Hampshire; a runway of growth through a number of challenges academic, social, and emotional. I had wonderful people who held a high, realistic standard, and without too much to say, they were present, interested, and invested in a Michigan kid along way from home.
Adolescence is hard enough as it is. Add the challenge of navigating life events, to balancing the rigor of what is already expected. This is where the relationship that is developed and cultivated comes in. And this does not end. That is what I learned with these people.
Life has been guided and directed through incredible experiences, and with meaningful relationships at the center. The complex challenges in life only continue. Not only do the experiences with the people in my educational process remain at the forefront of my mind, the principles and the values they guided with are present, also.
To look back and remember how each one taught, how each one led their craft, and how each one navigated various challenges has had a profound effect; teachings from teachers, both good and bad. Their approach solidified ‘how to’ approach life, how to work through challenges, and many times, with the end unclear. Be proud of your work, effort. The support, praise, and feedback may not be in the words. It may be in ‘the look.’