I’ve been playing my last blog back and forth in my head and the disappointment I felt. I’ve thought about the player involved, the situation, my team, all of it. Could I have done more? Better? Both?

So, instead of asking myself questions, I emailed the player. I wrote, a lot (she probably won’t read it all), about the pride I felt in her after becoming part of our team. I wrote about the pride others in the school were feeling in her too! I wrote about her team welcoming her into their group without question. I wrote about her own smile and sense of pride. I wrote about the disappointment I felt. And I wrote about seeing her smile when she returned to school. Like I said, there were a lot of words. Too many. But they just flowed.


I pulled out two favorite quotes in my email:

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. – Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch is the author of The Last Lecture, a book basic on a speech in a “Last Lecture” series called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” In it, he talked about many life lessons. I talked about how this player had been dealt a crappy hand, but that what she was dealt did not have to define who she is right now, nor did it have to define her future. She controls her attitude and controls where her life goes, not her past.

Surround yourself with those who represent who you want to be. – Gayle Lynne Goodwin

Gayle is an inspirational speaker, author of the website “Inspire Me Today“, a site dedicated to do just that, inspire us each and every day. I talked about how my player needed to find that group who would inspire her, not bring her down. She doesn’t have much of that at school, but I saw many positives with my team, including her in lunch discussions and in class. Those who get her into trouble, she cannot continue to hang out with them. If she wants that control in her life, this is one place where she can use that control to make visible changes.

While I don’t see my email as making much difference, I felt it had to be done. My sphere of influence with her was pretty small to start with, not having her in class. But if we don’t try, if we don’t work with the small time frame we have, what are we doing as educators? We don’t get to pick and choose those we teach, and we need to use that time with them to our fullest advantage. A Twitter friend of mine belongs to the “Starfish Club”. What is that you might ask? This is adapted from a story by Loren Eiseley:

One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!

We try to make a difference, one student at a time. Here’s to each of us continuing to do just that, no matter how much our students fight us!