I think it happens more often than not. We get overly focused on one thing and fail to see the bigger picture of what is at play – or at least that is what I believe happens with teachers when it comes to understanding the impact of our work.

It was my second year presenting the opening evening session at the Oregon Educational Association’s fall conference, and though my message was for attendees, I was unaware others were taking in the information as well. We had just finished dinner when I was approached by one of the servers. I was expecting him to ask me if I wanted dessert, but he threw me a curve ball. “I’m really glad you’re back,” he said. “Last year I stopped serving the food so I could take down notes from your talk. The information really helped me understand my kids.” I thanked him and started my presentation, but his comments got me thinking.

When we smile at a student in the halls – when parents watch our interactions with their kids and learn – when we give someone an encouraging word – when we choose to not add to the criticism of others with more of the same – I wonder how much our behaviors have unintentional consequences we never see. Teachers, keep keeping on. You make a difference – and I’m confident your impact is much greater than you think.