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The Educator Motivator

Teach It Forward
And Reap It Forever

Sometimes the smallest gifts are the greatest gifts. I should know, because my physical education teacher made an impact on my life that I have never forgotten.

I had just completed my final exam (dont ask me why we had to take a written exam in P.E.), when I attempted to turn it in to my teacher, Coach Bruce. When I went to give it to him, however, Coach Bruce passed a hand-written note to me.

He insisted that I not open it and asked me to read it later. Bewildered, I agreed and proceeded to leave.

Later that afternoon, as I stood in my room getting ready to change into something more comfortable, I felt the note Coach Bruce had given me stuffed in my back pocket. I immediately remembered he had given it to me, so I proceeded to read it. The note said:

Joe, it was an absolute pleasure to have you in my class this year. Your attitude and work ethic were a joy to watch. I cant tell you how much I looked forward to seeing you every day.
The reason I wrote you this note is because Im not sure if Ill ever get a chance to speak to you again. However, I want you to know that I am certain I will be reading about you and seeing your face again, because I know youre going to do some extraordinary things in your life and impact a lot of people.
Im writing you this note so when you do indeed become famous and I read and hear about you one day, youll know that I was the first to say I told you so. Good luck and God bless.

My initial reaction was the same as yours, Wow. Then my reaction moved from disbelief to pride. For the first time in a long time, I felt there was greatness inside of me. As a child, I suffered from low self-esteem, and I wanted desperately to win the approval of others, especially men; because my father wasnt active in my life as a child.

I cant tell you what Coach Bruces letter did for my spirit, my self-esteem, and my attitude towards school. Yeah, it was just P.E., but for some reason it represented much more than that. I saved his note and carried it with me throughout college, eventually graduating at the top of my class and being voted Most Outstanding Student in my major.

As a result of Coach Bruces impact, when I became a teacher, I quickly made it a tradition to pick one student in each of my classes (not necessarily the one with the highest grade), and I would give him or her a similar note on the last day of class (just like Coach Bruce did). All I can say now is I know how Coach Bruce must have felt when he gave the note to me. Because I seem to get as much pleasure out of giving it to my students as I did receiving it from Coach Bruce.

As a new teacher (or even a veteran one), I encourage you today to look for unique ways you can celebrate and encourage a student, colleague, or administrator at your school. I guarantee youll be making a down payment on a future blessing. If you dont believe me, just ask Coach Bruce.

About the Author

Professor Joe Martin is an award-winning educator, trainer, and author of several books, including Good Teachers Never Quit, When Students Just Won’t Listen, and Tricks of the Grade. Regarded as “America’s Top Educator Motivator," he speaks, trains, and consults with more than 50 school districts a year in the area of teacher retention and student motivation/behavior issues. Joe supports teachers through his family of Web sites at NewTeacherUniversity, RealWorld University, and Teacher Pay Raise. Click here to read his complete bio.