By John Henry Ledwith | May 12, 2016
Senior Sales Manager, ETR
It’s springtime! Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, kids are dreaming of summer vacation. And teachers? They’re already planning for next year’s classes and curricula.
Yes, lots of people are looking forward at this moment. But I find I’m actually reflecting back on years past. My wife and I have raised two wonderful sons. Both are about to graduate from college this June. As they finish up their undergraduate education, I’m feeling particularly grateful for the dedication and creativity of the K-12 teachers who reached out, gave them a hand and helped them succeed.
My kids are utterly distinct individuals who learn in wildly different ways. If you ever wanted a real-world example of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, spend a little time with the Ledwith boys.
Imagine, for example, that you wanted to know the temperature of the water in a small lake up ahead. My older son would take off running. He’d cannonball into the water, come out dripping and shivering, and say, “Wow! That’s cold! Don’t go in!”
My younger son would take a look around, check the direction of the sun and set a palm up in the air to feel the wind. He’d walk up to the lake slowly, look at the surface of the water, lean down carefully, dip a hand in and say, “Wow! That’s cold! Don’t go in!”
Same learning outcome, but completely different routes to that knowledge.
I can’t say enough about how much I value teachers who understand this and connect with kids in all the various ways that transmit true learning. When my kinesthetic learner was in preschool, I went to pick him up one day and found his clothes soaked through with water. “What happened?” I asked his teacher.
Turned out they were doing some kind of activity with whipped cream. My boy liked feeling the texture of it on his arms. His teacher let him experiment, which necessitated a little cleanup afterwards—hence the damp clothes.
“School was fun today!” he exclaimed with a radiant smile as we drove home.
And when my logical, verbal learner was in high school, his photography teacher guided him, pushed him and challenged him. He offered appropriate criticism and reasonable praise. “You can do this. You can do more. You can do better.”
He opened up entire new worlds and possibilities for this boy. My son went from a place of, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” to a certainty: “I’m going to study film.” He’ll be graduating from University of California San Diego with a film degree in just a few weeks.
Teachers are influencing students every day. What an amazing gift! What an awesome responsibility!
As educators, you can never be sure which moment might make a true difference in a student’s life. You finish your work for the term or the year and launch those kids on to the next grand learning adventure. Often, you don’t get much feedback about whether you made a meaningful impact over the long term.
I want to tell you, with tremendous gratitude, that you do. Thank you for caring for and teaching my sons, and all the students who fall under your charge.
John Henry Ledwith is ETR’s Senior Sales Manager. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @JohnHenry56.