I want to leave a legacy

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I want to leave a legacy
how will they remember me?

This song by Nicole Nordeman has the question that I ponder today as we bury one of the inspirations of my life, my grandmother.

In order to be effective where we are today, it is vital that sometimes we back up and observe ourselves from afar — “How will they remember me?”

  • Was I a good listener? (or a self absorbed know it all?)
  • Was I helpful? (or did I make people feel helpless?)
  • Did I use the power I do have for good? (or just to serve my own ends?)
  • Did I find talent in others and help them on their path? (or did I just care about my own recognition)
  • Did I inspire others?

It is important that we look at what we do and rethink how we will be remembered. There are some teachers that propelled me on to greatness and there are some that were unkind and labeled me, and I used them as the angry focus of my determination to succeed.

I now live in the hometown where I grew up and there are some people that I look at and remember the birthday party in sixth grade where they invited everyone but me. (And I have to work with the parent that let them do it.) Praise is great but sometimes the wounds go deeper.

I will tell you what I have learned from my Granny:

  • Life is too short to intentionally make enemies.

    Get rid of enemies by making them friends, and if you cannot, know that if they talk about you, that means you’re doing something — you cannot please everyone all of the time.

  • Do not let popularity be your greatest aim.

    Popularity is often tied to how much money you have or other functions of power. The greatest men and women in history were often not popular people but they got the job done. My grandmother lived both a life of extreme poverty and extreme wealth and knew the difference in how she was treated. My husband often says that he had the most friends when he owned a boat. For me, it is about doing what is right, telling the truth, and speaking out when it is important and butting out when it is not. (And having the wisdom to know the difference.)

  • Relax and take pressure off yourself.

    “Sometimes you’ve got to let the rough end drag.” she would always say. Each May that becomes my Mantra. Perfectionists tend to be way too hard on themselves and others, and when times are tough, just do the best you can and that is good enough.

  • Obstacles make a great story.

    When meeting with obstacles, she always said “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” My grandmother was an overcomer of obstacles. She was a very smart lady, but when her brother became deaf and needed to go to a special school for the deaf, she opted to go to work to pay his tuition after high school. She struggled to hold onto the family farm, and then built it into one of the nicest real estate developments in Birmingham self-educating herself and learning the real estate business and getting licensing — all without a college education. She did her own tax returns until she was 82 including all of the trusts and complex legal arrangements and land holdings. Obstacles never stopped her, she saw them as a great story waiting to be born.

  • Let love be your greatest aim.

    It was her life.

There are so many more things that she taught me, but as I wait to be picked up to go to the cemetery and sing at her graveside “It is Well with my soul” I know this — she has left a legacy of love and goodness in my life.

So, as I blog, I see each post as a remnant of legacy to be left behind for my own children. I want to inspire them to overcome, be more, do right, and love each other. There are many others in the blogosphere who have this kindred feeling of leaving a legacy and it is an undeniable part of what we all do.

How will they remember you?

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11 thoughts on “I want to leave a legacy

  1. Vicki,
    Beautiful and inspiring. Your grandmother sounds like an incredible woman. When I came to your mention of “It is Well With my Soul,” my eyes watered as this is one of my favorite hymns.
    Thank you for celebrating her life and legacy with us.
    Karen

  2. Vicki,

    I sat in a session with you at the Edublogger Conference. I live and work in Atlanta,involved at the edges of education and enterprise. Your blog post today is a fitting tribute to the legacy your grandmother gave you and which I’m sure was felt by countless others. Thank you for sharing what you have learned from her. I would suspect that many who know you see these values played out in your life–I always say there is no greater testament to someone than to adopt their habits that we admire.

    Your Flat Classroom Wiki project has been an inspiration to me–both for its harnessing of the new technologies for LEARNING and for its value as a cross-cultural experience. Thank you for inspiring me to want to leave my own legacy of caring and excellence-a passion to work towards realizing a vision of what I ‘see.’

    With the encouragement from Saturday, I have started my own blog. You are welcome to chime in any time–I would be honored.

    http://thenetwork.typepad.com/architectureofideas/

    May today be a peace-filled day that is a celebration of another’s life “well-lived” –and warm hug from her to you that will encourage you along on your path.

  3. You have already left a great legacy with all the students you have inspired. I was sorry to read of your Grandmother’s passing.

  4. I first heard this song about 3 years ago right before our church was going to be celebrating its 75th anniversary. As soon as I heard it I knew it would be perfect to celebrate the lives of many “heroes” of our church. I created a tribute video modeled after the original.

    Sounds like your grandmother was that type of hero and left a legacy.

  5. What a great tribute to your granny. Thanks for sharing a special moment. It is a legacy.
    Peace.

  6. I love that song!!! It is a great reminder to take time to reflect on how will be remembered. How am I living my life right now? Am I patient? Am I loving? Am I selfish? Am I proud?
    Someone seems to come along in our lives and leave a legacy like your grandma. I need to spend each day living a life that leaves a legacy. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Your legacy is that you taught and inspired others who were not your students. You are a true leader who is not afraid to learn or fail. Just by being involved on the fringes of the Horizon Project taught me so much, imagine the legacy you left with your students! If Lee will play online, I think you should sing online for us! Anyone second the motion?

  8. Vicki,
    I remember when I was deciding to teach for my profession. I remember thinking “How can I leave my mark.” I wanted to leave something behind. I wanted to leave my legacy.
    Well, I have now just finished my 10th year of teaching. I also coach soccer, basketball and track. I have had contact with approximately 1,000 students. I hope I had as profound affect on some of my kids as my 8th grade math teacher had on me. I would not be teaching if it were not for him. So the way I see it, I am his legacy and my students are as well.

    By the way one of my ex-student/athletes will be playing Rutgers football next year( #78- Kevin Haslem) I like to think I had something to do with his success.

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