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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Sticky Note

Pin It Over the course of my many years on this planet, I have come to realize that vast amounts of power hidden away in the little things—those seemingly insignificant moments which come and go in the breadth of a heartbeat. Even as I ponder over this thought, I find myself magically whisked back nearly twelve years ago; back to the days before I was a certified teacher; back to when I was working with other teachers’ students at Finch Elementary School.

I had started working at this particular school during my freshman year of college, and my job took me to many different classrooms and assignments; however, it wasn’t long before I came to find a favorite place in which to work: Mrs. Berger’s second grade.

I simply loved working with these kids; while I was helping them read or assisting with Math, the day would seem to fly. Unfortunately, no matter where one likes to be, this is not always the place where they are assigned, and it wasn’t long before I found myself scheduled to work in the learning lab.

The lab was not a bad place—in fact, I came to know some of the students there very well; however, I spent most of my time filing papers, grading assessments, organizing and compiling information, as well as a host of other duties which were far less meaningful than working with the kids.

In this lab I soon became very well acquainted with the dreaded “in” box. I hated this box, simply from the fact that no matter how hard I’d worked the day before, and no matter how empty it was when I left at the end of a shift, the next day it would be heaping again. Each day that I came I’d feel a veritable weight settle upon me as I looked at the huge pile of daunting things yet waiting to be done. In reality, it was all of the things the teachers themselves did not want to do—the unpleasant jobs.

Day in and day out over the months of the school year, the “in” box and I had set a pattern: I’d dwindle it down in my hours of time, and magically overnight it would refill itself up again; seeming to laugh reproachfully at me the next day when I arrived.

It was literally sickening.

I’d been working at Finch Elementary for quite some time by now; the snow had melted and the birds were returning from their migratory trips southward. It was a cool April day when I arrived—I’d been smiling and had felt happy—but now I could feel the weight settling upon me. I moved my concrete feet to the table where I worked and took the first few items from the “in” box and sat down to complete them. As I began the arduous tasks before me, I noticed a bright orange sticky note attached to the top page.


I sat there staring at this small piece of paper for very nearly a minute; reading and rereading over that simple little message that one of the lab teachers had written. I checked the back of the note; there was no name. I looked around the room, but there wasn’t any recognition from the teachers that I was even there...yet someone was aware.

I looked back at the note.

As I stared at that little piece of paper, something inside of me changed; no longer did that “in” box seem quite so unfriendly, nor did the tasks inside of it seem so mundane. And it was all from the simple fact that somebody—I don’t know who—noticed a young college student who was there every day, whether or not he liked it, and appreciated what it was he was doing.

It was Margaret Lindsey who so eloquently penned the words:

The little things are most worthwhile—
A quiet word, a look, a smile,
A listening ear that’s quick to share
Another’s thoughts, another’s care...
Although sometimes they may seem quite small,
These little things mean most of all.

There was so much power in that little, orange sticky note—a note I put into my planner and have saved for the past twelve years. I have come to realize since that time that is really those little, seemingly insignificant things that we do that can make the biggest difference in the lives of those around us.

May we all remember the power of the little things.

4 comments:

Corine said...

So true! I absolutely grin from ear to ear over all the little things that people do. I keep notes like that one as well; it makes life worth living (thoroughly)! :D

Thanks! :D

So... are you going to post some healthy debates? (just curious) It really is nice to hear various points of view.

hintonrae said...

The INBOX! Ack!

So nice that you recd appreciation for doing those mundane inbox chores, though. Great post.

Teachinfourth said...

Corine - Not so sure about debates, just differing views on life.

Lori - It's always nice to hear appreciation for the jobs that we do. Thanks for visiting!

Linn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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