My senior year of high school, I decided to take AP Calculus. I was taking some other advanced classes as well, and it wasn’t long before my math grade started to lag. Anxious about upcoming college applications and the desire for nothing to mar my GPA, I approached my Calc teacher, Bob Burns, to tell him I should probably drop his class. It was a small school, and between the fact that he had taught several of my previous classes, and that he had coached for a couple of my teams, we had a established a solid relationship.
Given that background, I expected that he’d respond to my concerns with reassurance, telling me I shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my grade and supporting my decision to drop his class.
I was, um, wrong.
Instead, Mr. Burns declared that if I chose to drop his class that day, I would be setting myself up to drop every other difficult and important thing that arose in my life.
Needless to say, I stayed. That was the single most precious skill I gained from his course that year: learning to stay even when the stakes are high.
As a tribute to Mr. Burns, I’d like to list other pivotal moments since then when I stayed where I might otherwise have very easily left had it not been for his bold words that day.
When I was so homesick my first month of college that I thought there was no way I could live so far from home, I stayed. And earned a teaching degree from a wonderful school.
When I was sure there was no way I could continue waking up at 4 am for a custodial shift, I stayed. And was able to navigate the world of college financing.
When I felt I simply could not handle my commute and daily goodbyes to my baby girl as I left to teach, I stayed (until bedrest and a couple more babies prompted my current sabbatical). And gained irreplaceable experiences, perspectives, and professional development that would inform all facets of my life, including my current blogging and child-rearing.
When I felt I would surely run out of ideas and should give up blogging, I stayed. And have discovered a remarkable PLN that has continued to push my thinking as a teacher.
Mr. Burns may not have caused all these events to unfold exactly as they have. But I know that without his bold lesson in persistence, I would have been much less likely to stick around for the hardest, but ultimately, most rewarding aspects of my life. And that is certainly thanks to a teacher.
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto