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What Will Your Legacy as a Teacher Be?

Photo by greeblie

Have you ever seen the movie Peggy Sue Got Married?  The 1985 movie by Francis Coppola is about a woman named Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) who gets whisked back in time to her senior year while at her 25th High School Reunion.  In the movie she talks about what life is like in 1985 and how things changed from 1960 to 1985.

Watching the movie now, some 26 years later, it is just as amazing to see how things have changed once again.  At one point she talks about how everything has gotten smaller except portable radios.  Those have gotten enormous, she says.  How ironic that now portable radios have morphed into Mp3 players and are even smaller than anything that could have been imagined at the time of the movie.

School in the 1960s is similar in many ways and, since she is in her senior year of high school, some of the scenes show her in class.  On one particular day she is unexpectedly faced with an algebra test.  She doodles through it and when asked why she did not try, her response was, “I happen to know that in the future I will not have the slightest use for algebra – and I speak from experience.”

As a teacher, this struck a chord.  How much of what we teach our students will they use in the future?  What foundations are we building and, more importantly, how are we connecting what we teach with real life applications?

Peggy Sue Got Married may not be an epic movie of all time, but it offers a unique chance to look back in time and see how far we, as a technological society, have come.  It also gives us a chance to reflect on the moments that defined the paths in our own lives.  Yet, the most important thing the movie does is makes us question what impact we will have on the future.  Ask yourself, “Will I be the teacher who turns a child’s life around this year and helps them forge a better path in life?  What will my legacy as a teacher be?”  It is a question that only you have the ability to answer.  What will your answer be?


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8 comments
Teresa Finnern
Teresa Finnern

I agree with you again, Mary! A love of learning and enjoying the process are important attributes to strive for within our own classrooms and school buildings.

Mary S
Mary S

As a fifth grade teacher, one of the saddest things I have heard parents say is, "This is the first year my child has enjoyed coming to school." I hope to instill in my students a love of learning. We can not teach them everything they need to know, but we can show them that knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge is an enjoyable, never-ending journey.

Karen Greenberg
Karen Greenberg

I haven't seen that movie, but I'm going to try to watch it on Netflix today. I have often asked myself the question of how much my students will really be using in the future. As a Social Studies teacher I made the decision early on to focus on the big concepts and not worry about dates and the little things that make students dread History. I also decided that for my 5th graders the Geography section (learning the 50 states and capitals) is very important to me. We spend one day a week (as often as we can) learning about a different part of our country. I want the students to have a basic knowledge of our history, I want them to become aware of places outside of our own state, and most importantly I want them to leave my classroom with an excitement for learning.

Cathy Pauscher
Cathy Pauscher

This article got me thinking about how relavant my teaching is. Do I apply what the students are learning to real life? I need to do a better job of that. Thanks for the reminder

Carrie W
Carrie W

What a great article! This really puts into perspective as to what we are doing as teachers in our classroom. As a fourth grade teacher, I have been asked several times by my students why we do we need to know this or why do we need to know that. I take the chance to let them brainstorm and then we discuss as a class why we would need that particular skill. Also, I hope and pray that I am a teacher that changes lives and will be remembered as a caring, loving and especially a good educator to my students. I don't give "filler" work, I try my hardest to stay as far away from worksheets and I use our school's technology all the time. We are fortunate enough to have Mac computers in our classrooms, a portable class set of them as well, an iPad for every teacher to use in class and four per grade to share. Technology is what our kids respond to. Why not use it every chance we get? We are a society of technology and I see my kids pawing at the chance to answer a question when they can write it one the iPad. So, I hope my legacy will be that I kept my students engaged, learning even when they didn't know they were and made them feel loved every day no matter what! Thanks so much for this article!

Cathy Dill
Cathy Dill

I want my students to remember that are Peacemakers and they have the power to make the world better each day.

Barbara G.
Barbara G.

What a great post, Brandi. With that very question in mind we pursued a School of Character award for Westwood. I kept thinking that, whether we earn the SSOC or NSOC distinction or not, leaving behind a legacy of having infused virtues like respect, caring, and trustworthiness into the hearts and minds of our little leaders would totally validate what we do. Our students take pride in attending a School of Character!

Brandi Jordan
Brandi Jordan

Thanks so much, Barbara! I completely agree! ~Brandi