When I was of elementary age, our school offered a free aftercare program. An empty classroom was open for games and crafts, and the playground was available for sports and group games. The adult leaders were college students that were gaining experience with children, while working toward a teaching degree.
The aftercare leaders would change from time to time and the program would remain the same. One new leader was different. He worked at getting to know us, by talking with us, and challenging us to be our best self. This teacher, who later in life became a friend, is the reason I decided to work with children.
After years in the field I have worked with many families. In moments of reflection, I have wondered, what ever happened to (child’s name) and the family? How are they doing? How did the child grow up?
Educators are in the lives of the children and the families we serve, for a moment. A moment is a small amount of time to offer a lasting impact. I do not believe changing lives is our plan. As educators we go about the day-to-day journey of working in the classroom. Our influence is a byproduct of the work we do.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch up with some children from one of the schools were I was an educator. I was at the school from out of state, and thanks to social media, word got out that I was visiting. It was a touching moment to see how many of the children came back to say hello. All of the children I remembered as little were all grown up.
As teenagers, they are all doing great and were very giving of their time. They came to share some memories of the fun we had, and share how they were doing in school and in life. I have been reflecting on this experience for a few weeks and I find it amazing to see how the children grew up. Some other children I have co-learned with are even older, in or out of college, and into their careers. Amazing.
In the end what I believe educators are doing is planting seeds and watching them grow. To grow seeds we must, tend to the soil, plant at the right depth, care for and water carefully. Then we look up one day and mature plants appear. This is the miracle of life as an educator.