Tuesday, November 11, 2014

You Are More than Your Mistakes

The title of this post comes from a Kid President video about heroes. Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to share a slice of life each Tuesday! I'm so grateful for this opportunity to write and share with you!

Have you ever had a day when you felt like a failure? A day where you felt like you kept messing things up, the more you tried to make them better? I had one of those days last week. Things weren't going well and I felt like I was failing as a teacher. I looked out at those faces and thought, "They deserve better." There's really no rhyme or reason to this particular day, but I couldn't shake those feelings.

That's the big problem...moving past those negative feelings once they grab hold of you. I couldn't turn off the voice in my head that kept a running tally of all of my failures. I wish there was a mute button for that voice!

During my planning, last block of the day, I decided to go for a walk. That'll help me! I walked to the mailbox in the main office. The mailbox usually contains more work, but not today. Today it contained my own tiny miracle. 

There was an invitation to a banquet. I read the letter and it seems that a former student of mine, Hannah, invited me...ME...to accompany her and her family to a banquet for academic excellence. Hannah, now a high school senior, had the opportunity to invite any of her teachers that made a difference and she chose me, her fifth grade teacher. On a day, where I felt like I was spinning my wheels and making wrong choice after wrong choice, this invitation reminded me that maybe I'm doing something right. 

As I looked at that little ticket and realized how much it meant that she invited me, I thought about who I would invite to a banquet like this. Who are the teachers that made that difference to me? 

Professor Daly taught in my graduate program. He was the first teacher who believed that I'd write a book someday. I've never forgotten that conversation!

Miss Leone. She taught history in high school and had so much passion for the subject and for her students. I felt important to her and loved being in her class! 

Sister Jean. She was my sixth grade science teacher. This is the first time that a teacher really challenged me to do my very best!

My mom. As I think back on my teachers, my mom is the one who encouraged my reading and writing more than anyone else! Weekly trips to the library built my love of books! That blue flowered notebook that she gave me opened up the world of writing. I had my very own teacher encouraging and loving me every single day!

Who would you invite to a banquet to celebrate your academic accomplishments? Thank you Hannah! I can't wait!


  1. Michelle, if you ever locate that mute button, I want one too!!! But more importantly, congratulations for making a difference! Being remembered is moment to treasure! I wish you the best time ever at the banquet!

  2. Michelle,
    It's crazy how we can be so hard on ourselves because we want so much for our students - that whole idea of independence that seems so elusive. What a difference you have made in Hannah's life (and many others)! Have fun!

  3. Michelle,
    I've had those days, coming on like a migraine headache. You see it coming and sometimes can't shake it. But you got the magic medicine! Yes you do make a difference, even with the occasional no good days (and think she's just one of the many, many students who feel this way). Love the tribute to your teachers, especially the one for mom!

  4. Oh Michelle! That was me last week when I sliced! But I'm so glad that you see you are making a difference! What a beautiful tribute to teachers. I would invite my high school math teacher, who saw that I could do math, just not like the others. :) I would invite my 7th grade English teacher, who I had the opportunity to collaborate with a couple of years ago. And crazy as it seems, a professor I'm working with in graduate school right now. His class might kill me, but he's been so kind and thoughtful about my work! :)

  5. Everyone has those days, Michelle, but not everyone has a beauty of a response to kick you back into feeling good again as you did. What a lovely compliment from your student! I remember a wonderful teacher for my junior & senior year of high school, English. I still remember all that I learned from her. She was tough, and made it stick. I was so prepared when I went to college, & so grateful!

  6. Best switch to change the feelings in a day. To be remembered and appreciated matters so much.

  7. What a wonderful gift on a hard day! I love how God works!

  8. So glad you took that trip to your mailbox. I'm glad it made your day do a 180 degree turn!

  9. Don't you love these little gifts and reminders!! Of course you're doing a wonderful job!!

  10. We all have days when we feel like we are failures. That is the time when we need to give ourselves permission to look back at all of the good we do and have done. Getting an unexpected acknowledgement proves that even though we may feel like failures sometimes, others don't. So glad you got this affirmation.

  11. What a wonderful way to turn your day around! How gratifying to know you had such an impact on Hannah (and all of your students, I'm sure).

  12. Hey Michelle,
    Awesome topic that I have not thought of in quite some time. Growing up as a SPED student there are prob more teachers who believed that I would fail in my endeavors that those who believed in me. One even said "I probably would graduate from high school, I would be lucky to graduate from a two year school and it would be a miracle if I graduated with a college degree" Those doubters only gave me the fuel to succeed. The Teachers who I knew saw potential in me will always be remembered. They are listed below:
    Elem - Ms Blanchfield
    Jr High - Mrs Sereca
    College - Dr Fortney
    Without these educators as well as my parents belief that I could achieve anything that I set my mind on, god knows where I would be.

    Mike Speidel


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