We have the power to light a fire in every child with whom we work. It only takes one person to change a child's life. Think back on your educational influences and you will likely find someone who lit a fire in you that still burns today. Across the country I've asked leaders, "What childhood science experiences do you remember?" People share about baking soda volcanoes, science fairs, field trips, and dissections that lit a spark in them. I never hear about textbooks.
During a recent out-of-school time staff training in Richmond, California, I asked, "What are the important characteristics of science during out-of-school time?" The usual responses—hands-on, engaging, and fun—were offered up. There was an uncomfortable wait time until a young man raised his hand and said, "Enthusiasm. It is important that the leader is excited when sharing the lesson." This sparked an important conversation about the power we have to influence children—either positively and negatively—and their attitudes towards learning. I recall my sixth-grade teacher starting the year by saying, "I spent my whole summer learning about new math," in the most negative and exhausted voice. It wasn't until the teaching credential program that I discovered a love for and success with math. There were many factors besides that teacher, but I remember her remarks like it was yesterday.
When you hear people talk about creating a brighter future, think of the spark that started your career. Think about the contribution you can make by sharing that spark with every child you meet. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are genuinely excited about the work you are doing and the activities you are leading, your students will want to be a part of it. We all have an enormous role to play in the future of the world. Lend your voice, your passion, your time. 25 years from now, in a gathering of passionate educational leaders, someone will share a story of a person who inspired them and sparked a fire that continues to burn brightly. Be that spark of inspiration. Choose to contribute.
For breakfast this morning, I had Malto Meal for breakfast with brown sugar and milk. Yummy!