Then, I think back. I have been teaching for 20 years. What kind of difference have I made? I have had over 2000 students in class. I am proud to say these students have become ordained elders in the methodist church, local pastors, youth directors, professional football players, contestants on American Idol and The Voice, stay at home mothers, lawyers, engineers, teachers (of many subjects and levels), and many more. How many of them remember something that I said to them? When I can't even remember everything that I have said to encourage students in the past two weeks. It reminds me of when I was in high school and a math teacher asked my why I wasn't on the advanced math track. That one question motivated me to do more! What do I say to students that could change their lives in a positive way?
I admit that there are students that I encourage more than others, but why? My excuse is always I don't have time to talk to every single student every day. But, if I make the time, if we all make the time, look at the change we can make to the world we live in.
If you are reading this, I challenge you to speak to a young person today who you don't normally take the time to visit with and just tell him/her that you are proud of the efforts they make to be successful. You will never know how much one conversation can do to change someone's life. For example, in college I struggled through Calculus 1. I had not yet figured out that I needed to be careful when choosing an instructor. A different math instructor (also a family friend)confronted me at church and asked "I received a list of students who changed their major this semester and you were on the list. Why?" I responded saying, "I can't even make a C in Calc 1, there is no way for me to make it through Calc 3 and beyond to be a math teacher." He said (with his gentle voice and finger pointed at me), "You WILL take Calc 1 again next semester, you WILL enroll in MY section, then you WILL change your major back to Math Ed. Do you understand?" I couldn't say anything but "Yes, sir!" The three minute conversation changed my entire life! Whose life will you change in 3 minutes? You may never know, but they will remember for a lifetime.