--Originally published at Flipped Learning
This past month, I had the unfortunate opportunity of saying good bye to a young man that was taken from this world far too soon. At the young age of 29, he was tragically killed in a vehicle accident. Set to be married in December and an avid hunter and hockey fan, his death came as shock to his family and friends. While it had been at least ten years since I last saw or spoke to him, I was quickly reminded what a great young man he was.
As I waited patiently in what seemed like a never ending line, I caught myself flashing back to those early days of my teaching and coaching career. It was through my early years as a football coach that I met this young man and his family...and all his friends for that matter. Starting in 7th grade, then 9th grade, and finally as a Sophomore on the JV squad. He brought a smile and a wit to every practice, every game! He had this infectious ability to make you laugh, while he worked his tail off to be the best he could be.
And so here I stood, waiting in line to pay my condolences. Surrounded by young men and women who I grew up teaching and coaching, noticing they are beginning to start families, a harsh reality hit me hard. Here lies a young man, destined for great things and eager to start a family, lying in a casket. Nothing in life is guaranteed. While the events of the day left me emotional, somber, and reflective, I quickly realized I miss teaching. I miss connecting with students on a daily basis, providing them a safe, welcoming learning environment that encourages individuality and risk-taking. I miss getting to know them, what their hobbies are, and what they want to do in life.
I have a passion for students - a passion for listening to them, believing in them, inspiring them, motivating them, encouraging them, and empowering them. I have a passion to help students see themselves in a different light than others may. I see teaching as an avenue to engage students in life altering ways, not through curriculum but through trust, honesty, empathy, and passion. For some, I might be the only bright spot in a students day. I must embrace that opportunity and help each student feel welcome, safe, and able to share with me! I love building relationships with students and seeing where they are in 10, 15, or 20 years!
As I pursue moving back into the classroom (insert plug for open math vacancies), I cannot wait for the opportunity to invest in each student and get to know him/her. I am also quickly reminded, we are only given today as a gift and we must choose wisely how we live for today. We have the choice to make the best of each day, approach students with kindness, and share our positive attitude with everyone we encounter.