A Few Words From a Student Changed My Perspective

by | 09.26.19

Matt Johnson is an educator in South Carolina. Follow him on Twitter @EduCaptAmerica.

Like a lot of teachers, my first few years in the classroom were really hard. In my sixth year of teaching, I came close to quitting the profession. I felt irrelevant. I didn’t believe I was reaching my students or having a positive effect on their lives. Then one day, I overheard a conversation that completely changed what I thought I knew. One of my third-graders, Gabi, told her classmate that I was the best teacher in the world.
The best in the world – I had never thought that about myself. But starting that day, I taught like I was.
From that moment, I felt accountable to my students in a new way. I thought, ‘If Gabi thinks I’m the best teacher in the world, I’ve got a lot to live up to!’ Her words challenged me to do more amazing things for my students. I started treating every day like it was the most important day of school, so my kids went home and were excited to come back the next day. That became my goal – on day one, to get them hungry about day two, and then about day three, and so on and so on. And that all started with Gabi: When I heard her say I was the best teacher in the world, I decided to believe her, and I decided to start teaching like it.
That moment really propelled me to where I am today. I still believe that’s how learning begins: With us doing everything we can to make sure kids are excited to be there, excited to be in our class. As educators, that’s all we can do: We can bring our best selves to our classrooms every day. And we can remember that we’re making a difference for our students, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

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