Know Thy Impact

 Each summer I select a few “professional books” to tackle, some old ones that I haven’t cracked the covers on yet and some new ones that have graced my desk throughout the year. As this summer begins, I find myself revisiting an old one on “Energizing Staff Meetings” and a new one by John Hattie, “Visible Learning for Teachers”. I had the pleasure of seeing John speak earlier this year, in Toronto, after I had read his first book, “Visible Learning” Within the preface of his latest book, Hattie coins the phrase, “Know thy Impact” and then he goes on to refer back to the phrase throughout the book.

I’m reminded of a time when I was a student in grade 6. Our teacher was visibly upset with our class as we would come up to his desk one at a time and have him check our world maps only to find that many of us were not copying the names of the countries properly from the Altas (I could do a whole other blog on such a antiquated lesson, but I’ll leave that for another day).

I can recall feeling confident that I had checked and double checked the spelling of each of the countries and then venturing up to stand in line with my peers. As I proudly submitted my neatly coloured world map for inspection and approval, I was anxiously awaiting the obligatory, “Well done, Susan!”, instead I was horrified as he stood up from his desk, marched over to the board and bellowed, “How do we spell, Australia?” I had added an extra “I” before the “l” thinking that the word “trail” was somehow found within the name of the country ~ as that is how it sounds to me. I sheepishly apologized for my mistake, corrected it and resubmitted the assignment.

To this day, I stop and second guess myself, each time I have to spell Australia.

Our grade 6 teacher was not a tyrant or a terrible person. Actually, we stayed in touch through the years. I volunteered in his class as I went through university and teacher’s college. I even chaperoned a couple of his grade 8 year end trips. I recall as I was promoted to principal, he surprised me with a visit and I was so touched.

My point is that as teachers, we probably have no idea of the impact that we have on our students every day. Our students are always watching us, listening to us and learning from us. There is a great responsibility in that and we need to appreciate and embrace it. We need to “know our impact”.

Did I happen to mention that John Hattie is from AUSTRALIA?

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