I am about to begin my fifteenth year of teaching. There have been SO MANY great teaching moments. The best moments are those when you know you've touched a life, made a difference. My own best moment was the time I literally changed a life. We all know that we have opportunities every day to make a difference. We all work hard and try hard and pray hard. And hope. We do a lot of hoping. We hope we make a lasting difference. We trust that we do, but we are often never really sure. But. Oh, on this particular day, I knew for sure I had made a difference. I know it still.
I had a little boy in my second grade class whose family life was a mess. In spite of that, he was always cheerful and sweet. One morning as I was greeting the kids at the door, he didn't give me a smile. In fact, he looked so very sad. I asked him to wait for me. After everyone else was in we talked for a little bit about what was wrong. He told me that his Mom couldn't pay the rent and they were being kicked out. He told me that his Mom said he would have to go to school in another town while she looked for a place to live. I hugged him while he cried. Then, I asked him if he could ask his Mom if he could live with his aunt (in our school's boundary lines) for a little while. He looked up at me with those beautiful brown eyes and said, "Would you ask her for me, Mrs. Lawson?"
I took a big breath, thought about all the reasons I shouldn't, and then thought about what was best for him. I said, "Yes. Yes, I will."
"Do you promise you'll ask her?"
And I did. I prayed for wisdom during the first twenty minutes of my plan time, then I picked up the phone and asked a mother to let her child live with someone else so that their education could continue uninterrupted; so that they could have one constant in their uncertain life.
The next morning, my sweet boy's aunt was waiting for me outside the classroom door. She asked to see me alone. Uh oh. As soon as all the kids were in the room, she grabbed me in a fierce hug and kept repeating, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." She told me she'd been trying to get her sister to let our sweet boy live with her for over a year. She said, "I don't know what you said to her, but I am so grateful you did. Thank you."
That little boy moved in with his aunt while his mother lived in a car and roamed from boyfriend to boyfriend. He was in my second grade class when that happened. He finished through fourth grade in our school and is now about to begin tenth grade. He is still living with the aunt who loves him and can take care of him.
My best teaching moment? The day I know for certain I helped change a child's world for the better.