Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stand on my shoulders and reach

Somewhere up there is a star with your name on it. I might not be able to help you find it, but I've got pretty strong shoulders, and you can stand on my shoulders while you're looking for that star. You hear? For as long as you want. Stand on my shoulders and reach, man. Reach.

I recently read tennis player Andre Agassi's autobiography (a really great book, by the way). Gil Reyes, Agassi's trainer and as it turns out, the loving supportive father figure he longed for, is credited for getting Agassi in shape to maintain his professional career past age 35, which is ancient for tennis players. Most professional athletes, actually. This quote of Reyes', which comes about halfway through the book struck a chord with me. I think about how relevant it is to how we, as teachers, provide scaffolding for students' learning. And then let them go. Gil's commitment to getting Agassi where he wanted or needed to go was steadfast and strong. He taught, guided, and then let Agassi go.

Memorial Day is upon us, the school year is coming to a close. The end of the school year is bittersweet. You are exhausted. Especially if this was your first year, you may be more tired than you've ever felt before. You are mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. You are so ready for a respite. But if you're like me, you start to sense a loss towards the end of the year. These students, for whom and with whom you have worked so hard, are about to leave. We have been helping them reach all year, but it is time for them to move on.

I attended graduate and undergraduate graduations last weekend at St. Kate's, and watching students process in with proud tears in their eyes, walk across the podium to get their diplomas, celebrate with friends at the end of the ceremony, I had to fight back my own tears. Partly in pride for these wonderful students, but also with a profound sense of privilege that I get to do what I love for a career. What we do is so important. Maybe the most important. Our work is powerful. We carry many on our shoulders to reach until they are ready to go.

So here at the end of the year, consider: how did you help your students reach their stars?


Post a Comment