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Photo taken by Bridget Harper Photo taken by Bridget Harper

He woke up “crazy-early”. 5 am to be exact. That in my opinion is too early for a four-year old to be awake. And it was apparent by the way he behaved. Or didn’t, to be more exact. I brought a blanket and a pillow downstairs, hoping he would lie down and maybe, just maybe, fall asleep. Or at the very least, rest.

That wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. He fussed. He complained. He acted as any four-year would that was awake an hour and half before their normal wake up time.

But then something happened. His sister came down. That was what who he needed. You can see the pillow at his feet and the blanket behind his back. They were innocent bystanders.  They were warm and comfortable. But they couldn’t provide warmth and comfort that he needed. But his sister could.

And she did.

I realize how lucky I was to capture this moment. It happened so quickly and so spontaneously. It was beautiful beyond words.

Look carefully again at the photo above. It was still early. It was still chilly. Yet, they did not feel the need to use the blanket. And the pillow was within reach. But neither of them reached for it. Notice how my son’s hand is, ever so slightly, holding onto his sister’s shirt. He wasn’t about to let go. Although, it wouldn’t have mattered if he did. They fit perfectly. He wouldn’t have fallen. She wouldn’t let it happen.

Last week I wanted to thank my daughter’s teacher. She is what we like to call on Twitter a Rock Star. But I wanted to choose just the right words to let her know how much her time with my daughter means to my wife and I. I told her how much my daughter enjoys being in her class. Because she does. She comes home happier than I have ever seen her.

But there’s more to it than that. Her classroom is nice, neat and very engaging. And I am sure she teaches wonderful lessons. At least, I imagine so, based on what my daughter tells me. Yet, that still didn’t capture what I was searching for.

Then it hit me. It’s not her engaging lesson and it’s not her organized classroom. It’s not that my daughter has straight A’s and it’s not she has many friends in her classroom.

It’s her teacher!

All this stuff is nice.

But like my son last week. It wasn’t things that were going to make him comfortable and happy. It was his sister. And so it is with my daughter and her teacher. I now knew the message I wanted to convey to her teacher. So I typed it in a DM and pushed send.

“She adores you and loves being in your class, but more importantly she loves being in your presence.”

What more could I ask for? That is why my daughter is so happy. I needed her to know that.

Fountas & Pinnel or Houghton Mifflin? Everyday Math or Scott Foresman? Write Steps or Step Up To Writing?

These are decisions that are made each and everyday by those responsible for providing the best possible education for students. And they are important. But not as important as the person in the front of the room. Or should I say, the person circulating throughout the room?

Our days are busy, stressful and oftentimes we go home feeling as if we could’ve accomplished more. But at the end of the day we must ask ourselves one important question.

“Do the people that we serve want to be in our presence? If the answer is yes, then we can accomplish most anything. If the answer is no. Well then we have work to do. Starting tomorrow.”

As our students were leaving to go home yesterday I got a hug that I didn’t see coming. From a student who I had to remove from the classroom. From a student who I have had to discipline on multiple occasions. And from a student who knows that I love him.

How does he know?

Because I tell him everyday.

How does he feel about me?

The hug from out-of-the-blue answered that question.

He wanted to be in my presence one last time before he left for the weekend.

And that is why I’ll be back on Monday.

Because I want to be in his.








6 comments on “Presence

  1. Brian Host says:

    Wow Jon, amazing reflection on the power and influence of our presence. This is something I am inspired to be intentional about being. Thank you.

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Thank you Brian. I am working to get better at this each and every day. I look forward to meeting one day. Have a great week.

  2. Thank you for reminding us why we teach! Beautifully written and inspiring this weekend.

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Sarah thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot. It was a beautiful moment and I was lucky to be there to experience it.

  3. Sometimes the hugs come from the least-expected sources, but that makes them all the more worthwhile. Thank you for the reminder. That IS why we’ll go back on Monday!

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Absolutely! If they only knew that we need their hugs as much as they do. We need to let them know and show them.

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