I’m not a religious person. My life has had much religion in it, but nothing has ever spoken to me. I genuinely don’t know the answer to life’s big questions. One thing that does guide me upon my travels through the short time in history that I have on this planet is the belief that what we do, as individual humans, makes a difference. One need not be famous or rich or well known. Each person makes a difference. No matter who or where or when they are, they change. They change everything around them, just by being.
These beliefs ground me when life becomes immense. They guide my decision making process. Most of the time life does not afford us the opportunity to see the waves we leave in our wake. It does not allow us to see the positive or negative effects of our being us.
Today, I was provided one of those glorious opportunities to connect a dear friend with some of those waves.
Last weekend Josette LeBlanc came to Ulsan to facilitate our monthly reflective practice meeting. All the teachers of the group are extremely fresh to reflective practice (RP). She discussed feelings and the needs that are behind them. We discussed both our students and ourselves. It was a roaring success with much passionate discussion.
Today, one of the teachers in that cohort last weekend came up to me. He had been feeling emptiness in his work recently. We discussed it a bit at the RP meeting. He came to me with an enormous smile. He had asked his students to reflect on how they felt about English during their 10 minute break in class. He provided feeling words on the board and left the room. Upon his return the students had genuine answers for him which led to a discussion in which the students felt heard, the teacher was able to connect with a class more than he would have done before, and the students walked away with the positive feelings of knowing that their feelings were justified, heard, and have been taken into account.
A powerful anecdote for the reach of a single RP meeting.
But that is not all
Josette recently wrote a magnificent blog based on her reflections in her own class. Those reflections then led to a children’s story, which she shared with her class and the world (the link provided takes you to the story, and I highly recommend ALL of her posts if you haven’t already found her blog).
I have now taken this story and shared it with my class. I have had them focusing on accuracy and fluency drills (it’s a conversation class) for the past few weeks. I thought Josette’s story would be a nice listening activity for the day. I had the students take note of words/phrases they heard but didn’t know as well as of count/noncount nouns they heard.
The students didn’t understand all the words but they did understand the story and the meaning behind it. This led to many smiles. They also got a healthy dose of exposure to the varieties of count/noncount nouns.
It went so well I am going to use the story with a dictogloss activity tomorrow.
All in all, each student in class told me that today’s class was a nice change of pace, they had learned something new, and they felt more confident now that they understood a bit more about this tricky area of English.
None of this is Earth shattering, but these anecdotes would not have occurred had it not been for the inspiration created by one person. Josette discovered something about herself, gave something to her students, to me and my RP group, to my students and to the students of a colleague of mine. In so doing one person has managed to change an ever expanding group of people.
One more little note of worth. If Josette had not come to a RP workshop on a chilly, very rainy day in Busan April of 2012, I may never have met her. In turn I may not have discovered RP, boosted my passion for teaching, created this blog, or positively affected the hundreds of students I have seen since. If she had not come I may have done all of that. No one knows. What we DO know is all the positives that HAVE already come from that trip.
Inspiration. It happens easier than one might think. Every person leaves ripples on the water of life as they walk through time. Will you leave positivity in your wake?