When Drew Henson’s professional football and baseball careers didn’t blow up (more like blew up), he became a scout for the Yankees. He’s learning the trade and, apparently, he likes it and he’s good at it. Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel wrote, “Henson embraced the scout’s life and the challenge of projecting what a 17-year-old prospect might develop into at 25.”
Isn’t that what teachers do, too? At least, isn’t that what we should be doing? Shouldn’t part of every teacher’s job description be to embrace the challenge of projecting what a seven, twelve or seventeen-year-old might develop into at 25?
Or 35, 45 or 75.
It’s not easy to do. It’s hard to look at a kid and not see just a kid. However, I’ve found that with age and experience, it gets easier to visualize children as adults.
This summer I traveled to Nicaragua with a group that included several of my current and former students, ages 15 to 30. It seems like only yesterday that the 30-year-olds were 15-year-olds. So, I’m acutely aware that, in the blink of an eye, today’s teenagers will morph into tomorrow’s adults.
And teachers have to envision them as the best potential adults they’re capable of becoming.
I don’t know that we do this enough. I know I haven’t. I’ve got to get better at it.
I doubt I’m alone. I wonder how many teachers looked at the young Natalie Portman and visualized the Academy Award winning Natalie Portman.
Then and Now Natalie Portman
And I’d be super shocked and incredibly impressed if any of Jon Stewart’s high school teachers saw him in their class and foresaw a 19-time Emmy Award winner.
Younger and Older Jon Stewart
I’m not sure even Portman or Stewart could have predicted their professional success, but the seeds of greatness were obviously there. It’s a teacher’s job to look for those seeds even when the student isn’t. And if we don’t find any, that’s okay. We can plant them.