I had a chance encounter with an ex-student at the Southland Nethui two weeks ago.
Our paths had crossed briefly 5 years ago when he was in his final year and I was in my first year at SBHS. He professed to “not being much of a reader” at school. He’s a fisherman, a regular “Kiwi bloke” who wanted to talk to me about books. He reads! He talks to the guys on the fishing boat about what he’s reading. He even sometimes, when he’s not at sea, attends the monthly public library book club. And he wanted to share his reading journey with me!
He asked for a couple of book recommendations, which I gladly gave him, and I also gave him my card saying he was welcome to keep in touch. Well, I received an email from him earlier this week. He wanted to thank me for my recommendation (Fahrenheit 451) – he loved it – and did I have any other suggestions. I quickly replied with my next recommendation, and he, in turn, replied he’ll let me know what he thinks – this time it’s The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I think I have found a new kindred spirit!
Why am I sharing this story? As an encouragement for all my librarian and teaching colleagues. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to receive unexpected affirmative gifts like this, but more often than not, we never know our reach or influence. Be very sure that these incidents are not just one-off anomalies, rather they’re just the tip of the iceberg. For every one student who seeks you out or you have a chance conversation with, there will be many others that you don’t cross paths with.
So, celebrate your awesomeness, continue to be approachable, kind and caring for ALL your students.
I shared my story with a teaching colleague, (he asked to be remembered to her cos she was his favourite teacher) and she was reminded of this whakatauki, which she felt encompasses the story’s essence.
I’m going to put this poster up in my library where I can see it to remind me, EVERY interaction sows seeds, and HOW we respond to that interaction will water those seeds.
Go be gardeners and waterers of seeds!