O.K. I am really going to date myself here, but whenever I hear “Thanks for the Memories”, Bob Hope’s theme song, I feel a warm wave calmness come over me. It brings back strong memories of a childhood being brought up in a home where no Bob Hope special went unwatched. Those memories are blended with emotions of happy times spent with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even though those days of childhood are long gone, the memories and visceral feelings are as strong as ever.
Ask yourself what are the aspects of your day that are really memorable? When you reflect about the past year on a personal level, what are the things that stand out? Take few moments right now and think about the things that really stand out, the great memories you have in your lifetime. What do they have in common? Emotions! Winning a championship, participating in a play, getting married, witnessing the birth of a child, spending time with loved ones, these are the events bring back memories charged with emotion. Memories of the people and the relationships we had with those people are what truly make an event meaningful. Do you remember the first great grade you earned on a test or do you remember how people reacted to it? You especially remember the reactions of those people about which you cared about and wanted them to think positively about you. Bad memories are made of emotions too. Being left out, feeling unwanted, not being noticed, having your flaws endlessly put on display. Emotions have a way of etching events into our memories so strongly that we cannot forget them even if we try…(and in the case of severe trauma, the opposite, we can’t remember even if we try).
You may now ask yourself where I am going with this….my point is that a truly effective educator builds strong, positive, professional relationships with students. An environment of shared respect and genuine caring will help foster a strong learning experience. As I think back on my education certain memories remain strong and most of them involve how teachers helped me feel worthy of their time. The most effective teachers I can remember combined high expectations with a “we can do it” attitude and a real rapport with their class. Teachers like Mrs. Eicher and her game of scrabble, Mrs. Gardner and a great Spanish class, Mr. Pigg and his cousins in a blanket, Mr. Tyndle and his undying love of science, and Dr. Bev Findley and her unequalled enthusiasm every day are the ones that made great learning experiences and memories for me. What kind of memories are you creating for your students?