So in my last post I mentioned that the starfish pin was part of my realization that I was finally at teacher, time to explain. Rockwood School District is where my first student teaching experience was, it’s also where I had the job of Title 1 assistant. All of the teachers in Rockwood had a starfish pin. The district gave these out to new teachers in the district, new to teaching or new to the district. Along with the pin came this story (which is currently posted on the wall above my desk, I laminated my copy when I got it and it has been posted in every classroom I’ve had). You may have head this story or a version of it elsewhere but here it is again:
There once was a wise old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. One day as he is walking along the shore, he looks down the beach and sees a human figure moving like a dancer. As he gets closer, he sees that it is a young man and the young man isn’t dancing, but instead he is reaching down to the shore, picking up a starfish, and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
“Good morning! What are you doing?” asks the wise man.
The young man pauses, looks up, and replies, “Throwing starfish in the ocean. The sun is rising, and the tide is out. And if I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles of beach and thousands of starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man, listening politely, bends down and picks up another starfish, throwing it into the sea past the breaking waves. Turning to the old man he modestly replies, “It made a difference for that one.”
~inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley
This story struck a chord in me then and still does today. Yes I want to reach every child in my room but if I reach just one I know that I have done my job and done it well.
The day I received my copy of the story and my starfish pin was a proud one for me, just more proof that I’d done it. I wore that pin for years, unfortunately somewhere along the way, in our multiple moves, I lost it. I have looked for a new one but haven’t found one yet, if you see one let me know please where I can get it.
This story also goes well with a short saying that I have seen in many teachers’ rooms, on school signs, and in day cares as well:
One hundred years from now
It will not matter what kind of car I drove
What kind of house I lived in
How much money I had in my bank account
Nor what my clothes looked like
But one hundred years from now
The world may be a little better
Because I was important in the life of a child.
Excerpt from the poem Within My Power by Forest Whitcraft
This is a poem I think all parents need to take to heart too. This is yet another one I have posted above my desk. I have five other inspirational or teacher oriented sayings on my wall. I look to them occasionally, particularly in times of frustration. They renew my spirit in low times just as the random kiddo hug in the hallway or the smile as they walk through my classroom door do. Maybe I’ll share some of those others another time.