The Meaning of an Impactful Teacher
A Reflection on the book, "Tuesdays with Morrie"
In reading this book, I felt this was more of a philosophical reflection on life and a unique perspective on dealing with death and loss rather than the emphasis on education . . . until I got to the very end of the book where Albom (1997) states his view on the meaning of an impactful teacher; that is where it came together for me. I have definitely had this experience both as a teacher and a student.
In teaching, I have recognized students that had such potential for future success even beyond where I have been. Their triumphs were my triumphs and I have always enjoyed reconnecting with them whenever we had the chance. Facebook is great way to do that these days in terms of keeping in touch. Their learning with me as their instructor has made such an impact that they have wanted to share their accomplishments and challenges with me. I even had one student whom I taught at another school that made a point to call me to tell me when she finished and passed her exams; she credited me for motivating her and I just pushed that aside by telling her how amazing she was in persevering to complete her education. I always keep that motivational perspective when I am teaching. You never know what impact you can have on another individual. I also keep this in mind as a practicing massage therapist in that therapeutic touch can have that indelible connection to my clients as well for those seeking it.
I also felt that way about my own mentor, Teddie, who inspired me to achieve things beyond what I thought I could be and who literally molded me into the professional I am today. And what's really amazing is that the position that I hold at the college as the director of the program is the same one she held when I knew her. So I have literally followed in her footsteps. Sadly, Teddie died of brain cancer 6 - 7 years ago in a very similar parallel to this book. I sometimes hear her in my head when I am working in my office, which used to be her office. I have found some photos of her and even some old files of projects she worked on. Her husband gave me all of her old textbooks and reference tools she had in their home. They now reside in my office and so she has an ethereal presence of honor in "our" office and I truly feel that she is watching over me in some spiritual way. I only hope that I make her proud with everything that I do in my work. And I still correlate that just as Morrie or Teddie had such an impact on their "diamond in the rough" students, we as educators have the ability to do the same for another. So I look for ways in which I can "pay it forward" because that is really what the lesson is all about.
Albom, M. (1997). Tuesdays with Morrie. New York: Broadway Books.