Saturday, August 20, 2016

Even the Smallest Moments Count

As teachers, we go into school with a million things buzzing in our minds; there's the plan for our teaching, the students we want to focus on for the day, the books we plan to read, the language we want to use, the change of schedule because of an assembly, the meeting we need to attend during our planning time, the parent we need to contact and so much more.  Across the years I've discovered there are many things for which I'm responsible, but perhaps it is the little things that matter most - the things I might not even have a true awareness of on a day-to-day basis.

Such was the case at the end of last year.  The last day of school was an emotional day, more so than usual as I was changing positions and would be leaving my home school.  Though I was excited about the opportunities ahead, it was hard to leave a community that had become such a part of who I was (truly #teacherheaven).  The day was full of kind words, sweet cards, small tokens of appreciation that filled my heart with much joy.  After the bell rang, students and families buzzed around the school.  I was putting the final load of items into my bag when a student walked into my door, her mom stayed in my doorway as she entered.  I hadn't had this student in class, hadn't supported her in reading, hadn't had her in any of my after school groups, but recognized her face from around the building.

The girl, one of our older students, was holding a blue piece of paper, but she was obviously a bit uncomfortable.  I smiled and greeted her, unsure of what she might need.  I started to talk about the last day, and her mom soon interjected, "My daughter stayed up last night writing a note for you.  She wanted to tell you what a difference you have made."  I looked into the young girl's eyes as she handed me the note, her face began to relax and her smile grew.

As she handed me the note her mom added, "We can't stay, but she wanted you to have it."  I sensed the girl didn't want me to read the note with her there so I thanked her and we said our summer goodbyes.  After she walked out, I read the note.  In it she wrote about those little moments she saw me:  in the hall, in the cafeteria, working with her friends.  I was surprised by how much she had noticed about what I did from day to day in our school.  She thanked me for talking to her as we passed.  I could tell she felt noticed in these times; these times that were such a small part of both of our days.  "I will miss you.  A lot of people will miss you.  The staff, the students, and even the parents love you and will miss you."

The letter from this student really meant so much to me.  It was completely unexpected and such a kind, heartfelt gesture.  It serves to remind me now that it's the little moments that matter.  We don't always know we're making a difference, but perhaps every moment counts more than we realize.

(You've probably already seen this video, Eye-Opening Video Will Make Adults Reconsider the Way They Talk to Kids.  It speaks to these little moments...but make sure you watch it to the end.)


  1. Such a beautiful post and a tender reminder, kids are always watching. Cathy you are sincerely missed in #teacherheaven. But your message is about the silent touches and impressions we leave even when we think no one is watching. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. Those are the moments to cherish. I realize more each day that my actions, gestures and words make the complete picture. I had a similar feeling in my celebration post today. Loved the video.

  3. What a beautiful story.
    What a thoughtful girl.
    What perfect timing.

  4. Kids watch.
    Kids listen.
    Kids pay attention.
    Kids matter!

  5. What a beautiful story. Kids see so much more than we realize. This is the perfect example.

  6. Great reminder. They really are ALWAYS watching us.

  7. Oh Cathy this gets me. I too left my school and my community - 21 years in one place. Lots of emotions. Incredible that who we are with others means so much not from the big things but from the small and consistent moments that happen every day. Thank you for sharing this.