A number of years ago I spoke about creating a legacy. While some may believe this to be egotistical, there is nothing further from the truth. In education, we should be trying to create a legacy each and every day. True legacies are not about self other than the goal to improve oneself in order to pass on those important life lessons to the students we teach and the people we interact. Legacy is far from ego because it is not what we get but it is about what we give.
Often when I speak to young teachers or those still in training I reiterate the importance of the relationship with their students. Sadly, they may be the only person in their student’s lives who truly cares for them. They may be their safe haven and only horizon of hope. Their legacy is about what they can give each student to be better, feel safer, rise above and aspire to a better future. The memories of our best teachers always revolves around how they made us feel. As a parent and now a new grandparent, isn’t that we want all of our educators to do and to be?
It saddens me when the important impact we play as educators on our students is not fully recognized. All professions have poor performers but to lump all educators with a few bad apples is unfair and unwarranted! The vast majority of educators in our systems desire the best for their students. And in order to accomplish this, we must seek to be the best and ultimately create the legacy that students deserve and we desire.
As we come closer to the end of the year, I think it is important to ask ourselves the following questions:
- What legacy did I create?
- What will my students, parents, co-workers remember about me?
- Did I make the life of someone better because of my actions?
- Did I make a difference?
- And finally, how do I create my legacy even better next year?
Every year at our retirement banquet I listen to the stories of our retirees and of the legacies that they have created. It is such a positive evening because of the stories. Most often the stories I hear would be best told to our beginning teachers. For not only do we need to pass on our experiences to our students we must to our newer staffs too! They are our future! Legacies can build on each other if allowed and nurtured.
I admire those who retire when they are at the top of their game, love what they do and are still contributing to their legacy. I am grateful for the many retirees who have gone before me and left a legacy that I can build upon. As you conclude this school year, remember to reflect on the legacy you want to create from this point forward.