I recently served as a judge at an elementary academic meet in a town I’ve never lived in. When ushered to the room of the contest I began to settle in and prepare for the first contestant.
Upon examining the environment I became aware of a rocking chair that the teacher had placed in the room. It appeared to be a centerpiece of her teaching craft, evidently used both as a collective gathering place for learning as well as an individual “reward” for students who had performed/behaved well. As you can see by looking closely, the chair has the definite markings of extensive usage.
As I looked at the chair, I became aware that it was one of my own making, some 20 years earlier. I had built that chair as template for one of my classes, back when I was pretending to be a shop teacher. Upon further inspection of the environment, I realized that the classroom was that of a (young) lady whom I had taught two decades ago.
It was not lost on me that both the craft of my hands and the craft of my teaching might be having impact on the learning of students whom I would never meet, in places I had never worked, decades after the initial application of my work.
That thought is both awesome and frightening to me. A powerful reinforcement that our work (as educators, as parents, as mentors) DOES impact the future, for good or bad.
I am reminded also that we get to choose the kind of impact our work makes. That choosing is best done through mindfulness and reflection.