Hallways now filled with students passing to their next classes, I ventured out into the stream. There she was. Our eyes met. “Oh,” she said, “there you are. It’s just the person I was looking for.” Silently I wondered what this interaction might bring. Making my way through the throng of book-laden middle schoolers, I approached her, a seventh grade English Language Arts teacher from my building. A colleague. A friend. She stopped, waiting for me.
“Hi,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Well,” she began, “I wanted to tell you something.” My mind raced with possibilities, as likely anyone’s would. I nodded, focusing my entire attention on her. Her face exuded seriousness, but this is her way.
“Okay?” I said.
“You and I have spoken a few times about this year… about how I feel I’ve been struggling in some areas of my teaching, right? Like conferring, for example.” Briefly, she cast her eyes down to the floor, but then right back to mine. “But last Friday, you said something that was so helpful. Remember in our meeting, you mentioned a few specific things that we as teachers could focus on in our conferring? For some reason, when you said that, I felt like I could do it. And now…well, I’m excited to confer in this unit. I just wanted you to know that what you said really helped.” And she was gone.
I stood, silently feeling the smile forming on my lips. I could feel these words taking hold, warming me inside like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day. And although I knew I couldn’t bottle this moment, I returned to my office knowing I could live off of it for at least the rest of today, if not this week.
How much of a difference can a kind word can make.