The Signature Line of an Email

The signature line of your email is very important. It’s like a teeny tiny window into your soul. The signature line of your email tells your reader what is important to you. For example, on our campus, a lot of staff members use this space to tell about themself (contact info, what they teach, advanced degree, etc.) The school nurse uses it to list facts about teen smoking. The administrators have a confidentiality notice. All of these things are important to the email’s author.

A small hand full of teachers have a quote. I have a quote. My personal teaching philosophy from which I (try to) base all of my decisions:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a better place… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -R.W. Emerson

For three years this has remained the quote on my signature line. When so many things change with my lessons, classroom decor, and heck, even my job assignment, this quote has remained the same. It is my personal teaching philosophy. I love to laugh. I love developing that trusting, respectful relationship with my parents and students. I love camaraderie with my colleagues.

Today I was lucky enough to experience the meaning of one small part of my quote.

Today one of my sweet, sweet students asked me if I thought she could be a professional writer one day. “Absolutely!” I told her. Then she walked into my class smiling.

Today I felt like a good teacher.

You see, the first year I taught writing I struggled. Friends, let me say that again: I struggled. I’ve always been a fairly good writer myself, but I quickly discovered that you can’t teach creativity – a crucial component to being a great writer. It took me some time to realize that not every student has to be a GREAT writer. But they all have to be proficient writers. Afterall, writing is an essential life skill. What job or lifestyle doesn’t involve some sort of written communication from time to time?

Through trail and error, workshops, and some nudges from other outstanding teachers, I developed a system that worked really well for me and my students. (Which I’ll share through this blog very soon!) The point is: it took time, and I’m still not done learning and developing my writing lessons, BUT for one student I made a different.

World, did you get that? One student of mine has enough confidence in her writing that she thinks… no, she WANTS… to be a professional writer! She’s not my most naturally gifted writer. But she works hard and has come a long way this year. I won her respect and affection. I captured her heart and captured her mind. I taught her to be a better writer. That, my friends, is to have succeeded.

Today I felt like a success.

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