This meme speaks to a feeling that I experience on school visits every time I make a presentation, or even speak one-on-one with a child. And with that feeling comes an immediate identification with teachers, because I recognize that they must feel it, too, every single day.
As a parent, I’ve experienced it constantly.
To the point where it must speak to the essence of what it is to be a teacher, to be a parent.
Scattering seeds to the wind.
On visits, I’ll have 45-50 minutes with, say, a group of 200 students. I’ll joke, tell stories, read something, explain my writing process, show photos of my dog, try to pass along my love of literacy, answer questions, maybe even impart bits of wisdom gained in 34 years as a published author. Then time’s up and they dutifully file out of the big room, shuffling off to what comes next.
And I wonder: Did I connect? Did my words make a difference?
Again, I could be talking about my four-mile walk yesterday with my son, Gavin, age 20. Did he hear me? Did I say anything of value? And also, along with that: What did I learn? Was my heart open?
In the end, we have to keep faith that our efforts have meaning. Yes, many the seeds will not thrive. In busy schools, the days are packed. There’s always the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. A flowing river of next things. But we also know that sometimes, for certain kids, those experiences miraculously do stick. A thought, a feeling, an idea clicks. Maybe not today. Maybe in five years it resonates anew.
And maybe the memory of that experience lingers for a lifetime.
Imagine making that kind of impact on a life.
It’s what teachers do every single day.
The seed finds fertile soil. The rain comes down, the sun shines warmly. And one day a green sprouts lifts its head, says “I am,” and starts to grow.
All we can do is keep scattering those seeds, doing what we can, hoping for ears that listen, hearts and minds that are open.
Every time I am invited to a school, I am grateful for that opportunity.
Look for All Welcome Here, by James Preller, illustrated by Mary GrandPre, coming this June.