Juliet Macur, the author of this recent NYT article, in an unrelated interview was asked, “What is your favorite virtue?” “Kindness,” she answered, and then added:
“My earliest memory of it is my mother taking the train to Manhattan from our house in New Jersey, toting three freshly baked loaves of bread. She would leave each loaf next to a homeless person sleeping on the floor of Penn Station.”
I sent an email to a student of mine this week to see if there was anything I could do to support her in the last stages of her teaching certificate work. From Central America, a wife and mother, Rosa is struggling to complete the high-stakes performance assessment she has to pass.
She wrote back:
“I think the only reason I will end the program is thanks to you all. Every time I was about to break there was one of you to hug me, encourage me, smile at me. Remember when you stopped to talked with Rebeca, Drew and I one day? You called us “three of my favorite teachers.” You have no idea how much that meant to me. Now every time I feel like dropping out, I get my journal and read. Stop Rosa you are already a teacher and not only that, you are one of Ron’s favorites so get it together and finish! You haven’t come so far to come just this far!”
I barely remember that interaction. My words that afternoon were a spontaneous, simple, seemingly forgetful greeting that I never would have guessed any of them would’ve remembered very long at all.
As teachers, parents, and coaches, we forget that our words, whether we think before speaking or not, whether kind or not, have lasting impacts.
In the New Testament, James (Chapter 3, verse 5), encourages his readers to “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
Think first, convey kindness, and most everything else will fall into place.