We have been so blessed this school year because my son has an exceptional teacher. He is in first grade, and has hated school since Preschool. In the USA, preschool is optional, and in Utah (where I live) Kindergarten is optional also. But he went. This year as he started first grade I prayed that he would have a good teacher. It’s just not cool for a little kid at the beginning of his academic career to already hate school. He has a lot of very slow-passing, miserable years ahead of him if things didn’t change. All it took was the right teacher to make the difference.
Great teaching makes the difference
Then came Mrs. B. She is one of those women who seems effervescent. She smiles, she encourages, she creates, and she is the best little cheerleader my son could have. And she affectionately refers to her class as her group of “First-ies”. My son loves school now! She finds amazing ways to make things fun. The kids don’t even realize they are learning. They are just playing the games, or doing the art project she shows them.
One of my favorite activities she did with her students this year is “Word surgery”. The kids donned surgical masks, and gloves. They cut out words, sticking them back together to create contractions. The newly formed contractions were stuck together with colorful Band-Aids. Not only did the kids learn a new concept, but they had a fun time doing it!
She also did a cute lesson about bodies. And as the kids left the classroom that day she handed each one a medical glove full of water so they knew what our bodies would look like without bones. My son still has his glove and thinks it’s the coolest thing. And her ideas seem to spread through the school because they are so good. I’ve loved watching the Band-Aid contractions appearing outside other teacher’s classrooms as the idea has caught on. It’s so cute.
I got a voicemail during school one day with Mrs. B singing my son’s praises. It was clear she was doing it in front of him and the whole class. She does these calls for every kid! My boy’s self esteem and self- confidence have increased so much with her open admiration and ample praise. There isn’t a kid in her class that doesn’t know she is on their side. And she even teaches the kids life skills, like “How full is your bucket.” It’s a book that illustrates how what we say affects other people, and we should seek to fill each other’s buckets. It’s a wonderful way to teach kindness and positivity. You can watch a video of the book being read here. It’s excellent.
Above and Beyond
Not only does Mrs. B make sure the classroom is fun, but she even takes time to make online videos to help with first grade math lessons. Most parents learned math differently than they teach it now. So when our kids come home with these new ways to do math problems and need help, we are lost, and unable to clarify.
I was amazed that she had created these videos, because it opened my eyes to just how much she cares about the success of the kids in her class. She will even stay after school and tutor a student or a parent in math so that nobody is left without support. I’m so grateful for Mrs. B. I wish every teacher were as inspiring and dedicated as she is.
I bring her up, and shout her praises, because it leads me into the hard lesson I learned that inspired this article. I was stunned to find out that a thoughtless and ignorant parent had made a point to seek out this sweet teacher and tell her to her face that she is a terrible teacher. This parent may or may not even remember the conversation. But it has devastated Mrs. B. This event happened a few years ago, but still brings her to tears talking about it. And you know what? It has affected her so profoundly that I have to ask each of us if we realize our own impact on those around us.
Did you know, that according to The Harvard Business Review, for every negative comment we need to hear 6 positive ones to get over the damage it causes? Imagine with me just what that means. It means that every little girl who looks in the mirror and says to herself that she is fat, has to hear 6 times that she isn’t to overcome that one moment. And the New York Times reminds us that as humans we tend to remember negative experiences, and comments, more strongly and in more detail than positive ones.
It means that every snippy comment we make, every waitress we berate, every cashier we tell off, leaves marks so deep that it takes 6 kind people to erase the effects of what we have done. And it means that every one of us who is out there trying to spread goodness and joy have that much larger a job to do as this world fills up with filth. In the case of my favorite teacher, Mrs. B, the comments that parent hurled at her made her stop in her tracks. It broke her heart. Does that parent know what she did? Does she know the impact of her actions?
I wrote recently about my friend, Doug Barney, who passed away last month. I always knew he was a good guy, but it wasn’t till after his passing when friends seemed to come out of the woodwork to sing his praises, that I realized just how much he had affected every life he touched.
My family and I thought we were unique, and were lucky to have a great guy in our circle of friends. But the whole community was impacted by this great man. And you know what? Mrs. B is the same kind of person.
Each one of the kids who have passed through her First Grade class know they are loved. They know their facts and have a firm foundation for the grades to follow. And because each year builds on the year previous, that means each of her students are that much more successful in life. It’s not often we get to see our impact on the world. But in this instance, I pray Mrs. B gets to see hers.
We can make a difference
While we are on this topic, I’d also like to issue a challenge. I challenge you, dear reader, to make a difference — a positive difference — in our world. We all can remember those painful moments that broke our hearts. And I know the Lord is working, even now, to heal each of our wounds. But it will make the Lord’s job a lot easier if you and I actively seek to heal those around us. Kind words, holding the door for someone, letting another driver go ahead of us, going that extra mile in any way we can, all add to the giant Band-Aid that our world needs so badly. Courtesy and kindness are not dead. And through our actions we can teach others that too, encouraging them to join in.
This challenge may require you to look inside yourself and ask for God’s help in healing your own wounds. It’s hard to stop another’s bleeding when you yourself are about to bleed to death. But I know we can do it. We can form a global army of goodness. And we can change the world.
If you are one of those hurt by another, remember how much you are loved. And ask the Lord for those 6 positive moments that will counter the poison that broke your heart. Then watch, for He will send the miracle. And you will see how much you matter to Him, and how much better you can make this world.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.