Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #49
One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to actually have a student in your class to make an impact in their lives.
My third breakthrough story (continued from last week) is about a teacher, Mr. Piersol, who taught me that very lesson.
Mr. Piersol was our band teacher. I had gotten to know him, though I wasn’t in band, because one of my best friends, Simon, dated his daughter. So I began to spend a lot of time over at their house.
One day my sophomore year, I was eating lunch. At our small high school, part of a teacher’s duties was lunch room monitor. Mr. Piersol had that dreaded task my sophomore year.
As I was eating and horsing around with my friends, inevitably a minor food fight broke out.
One of my friends hurled his milk at someone a few tables away. It landed by me and splashed on my plate.
I quick look around and didn’t see anyone so I hurled a piece of cheese back at him.
Then the teachers came in and squashed the food fight. Mr. Piersol sent my friend and someone else up to the office.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized he hadn’t seen me! I got away with it.
Then as I dumped my tray and headed out to my locker, Mr. Piersol came up next to me.
He put his arm around me and said, “Kurt, I saw you throw that food.”
I was embarrassed and felt like an idiot. “Sorry,” I muttered.
Then Mr. Piersol said words that would greatly impact my life: “I didn’t send you to the office, though, because I know you’re better than that. I sent the other two because, quite frankly, I expected that out of them. But not you. You know you’re better than that too.”
He was right. I felt guilt and shame burn in my chest and my cheeks.
“That won’t happen again, will it?” Mr. Piersol asked.
“No it won’t,” I said.
“Good,” he said and sent me on my way.
This impacted me because it showed me - for the fist time that I realized anyway - that other adults had expectations of me. Though, apparently, I didn’t have any (at least any high expectations) of myself!
If Mr. Piersol expected more out of me, what about my parents and coaches and other teachers?
That was the first time that I can recall viewing myself from someone else’s point of view. From that moment on, I began to imagine what I would look like from other peoples’ points of view.
Talk about an amazing lesson!
So now, I talk to my students about not only the expectations I have of them but the expectations they should have for themselves.