Sharing personal lives with students creates a powerful “weave”

Online magazine columnist Leslie Harpold wrote that one of the keys to a powerful thank-you is to tell the reader how they fit into the fabric of your life.

I’ve taught many writing lessons using an article that Harpold wrote in The Morning News about how to write a meaningful thank-you note, but I never expected that this article would teach me something powerful about myself as an educator.

Abigail was born Oct. 27, 2011

If you have been following this blog, you know that my daughter Abigail was born last semester. I took a couple days off, but when I went back the following week the students in most of my classes wanted to celebrate with me. They stood up and congratulated me, gave me gifts for Abigail and then constantly inquired about Abigail throughout the semester. Now when I pass them in the hallways of the college, the first thing they say is, “How’s Abigail?”

Last semester was my best semester as an educator. I attribute some of this to being able to apply the new knowledge I’ve gained from beginning my M.Ad.Ed. and to the creativity and passion and to the countless hours I put into my lessons. However, I think that much of the magic that developed with students came because of Abigail.

Abigail having a snooze

There’s something about bringing new life, new hope, into the world that stirs people…that stirred my students. And, indeed, for my part, my students were “with me” when Abigail was born. They were an important part of my life when she arrived. And then they took our relationship to a new level by celebrating my joy with me. Hence, I have a bond with these students like none I’ve felt before.

This inflames my passion for teaching even more. I’m completely astounded that sharing the occurrences in our personal lives can have such a profound effect on our teaching and the way we feel about ourselves as educators. And of course, if you are a teacher, you know that our work as teachers also has a profound effect on our personal lives.

So what do we do with this information?

The answer is obvious: live and teach as if this semester is your last. And keep on weaving.

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About teachingteacher

Business communications instructor, journalist, corporate communications writer and media trainer ... and Masters Candidate M.Ad.Ed.
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