Listening, caring, reflecting. A true holiday gift.

Among the hustle and bustle of the final few days before winter break of cramming in meetings with grade levels, academic coaches, supporting students and getting in a few last minutes check-offs before taking a brief pause on the work flow for the holidays. This time of year we find ourselves reflecting on the past year, checking off final boxes at work, home, gifts, etc. before scattering about town or wherever life takes us for the holidays. It’s truly a joyous time of year but often chaotic – controlled chaos is a phrase I sometimes use to summarize the days prior to an extensive break.

A series of events (I’ll spare details both for time sake and insignificance for this post) led me to my prior school in our district today. While I taught and completed my administrative internship at this school for a total of 4 years, I had not returned to Powell since I left nearly 2 years ago. That changed today.

I never realized the true impact I had on so many children at the school until today. It made my heart beyond happy. As I walked down the hall to reach the 4th and 5th grade hall where I taught doors started opening in every room with calls of “Mr. Fetters!”, “Hey, Mr. Fetters is here!” and the like at literally every door. While I made it to most of the classrooms for a 2-3 minute visit per classroom to see former colleagues and meet a few new teachers to the school I was amazed how so many students came up to me with specific examples of how I impacted their lives academically and socially. Mind you, I never had any of these students in my class but always made a point to know every child in the school on some level – a connection, relationship – at least be able to say beyond hello to every single child.

While it was fantastic to see so many of the amazing teachers at Powell today the strongest  takeaway were the conversations that took place with the students. They were so fascinated to learn about what I’m doing in education now but also to tell me about what they’re learning now. “Remember when I was in second grade and you told me you believed in me? I couldn’t read well then but I have a level 3 in Reading now.” one child told me.  Another child who I worked with a lot in my internship talked about taking a chance a risk – something we talked about a lot. Now this child is a 5th grade leader helping out on the stage crew and setting a great example for his younger peers and siblings. Why? Because he took a risk and jumped out of his comfort zone. Many children whose parents I got to know directly or indirectly told me their moms and dads asked about me often and would be sure to tell them I came in today. Today’s visit, while brief, was empowering. Yes, it’s always great to connect with former colleagues but the connection with students we all serve and knowing we’re making a vital impact in their lives solidify why we’re in education. I’ve never regretted following in career path of my mother, grandparents and aunt for a moment and today only further cemented those feelings. angela-maiers-favorite-quotes-14-638

It also further instilled my belief in the language of mattering and Angela Maiers’ #YouMatter work. While I owe so much of my positivity, listening and caring to my inate abilities as a person and educator I feed so much off my PLN and others like Angela who drive me daily to strive for greatness and become better. Eternally grateful. Today was truly a wonderful holiday gift.

Angela Maiers’ “You Matter” TedX

Never underestimate the fact that #YouMatter and the world needs your contributions.


5 thoughts on “Listening, caring, reflecting. A true holiday gift.

  1. Kyle Hamstra says:

    Nice reflection, Brendan. I like how you’re getting to the heart of it all. That matters. As an educator, you never really know where your influence ends. Always a great idea to check in and follow up with people along the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill Ferriter says:

    Brendan wrote:

    Today’s visit, while brief, was empowering.


    OK Pal,

    Are you ready for a challenge?

    The moments you are describing ARE empowering for teachers. We NEED reminders of the impact that we have had on kids. It’s the fuel that powers us through in what is all too often a discouraging profession — particularly in a state like ours.

    And what’s totally nuts is those moments don’t happen all that often for teachers. At my school, the only time that I see former students is at dismissal — and that’s ONLY if I make the time to get downstairs at dismissal time. There are no formal structures or opportunities in place to bring students together with their former — or future — teachers even though it would do EVERYONE a ton of good. Teachers would get frequent reminders that they ARE making a difference — kind of a permanent Tootlin’ Tuesday experience — while students would get opportunities to stay connected to mentors that they believe in.

    So what are you going to do to create MORE of those kinds of opportunities for the teachers in your school? How can you push for this kind of stuff from your position of leadership?

    Good question, right? Can’t wait to hear what you do with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. BrendanFetters says:

    Love the feedback and your BIG question, Bill! What better way to fully foster a culture of mattering than with continuous, genuine before during and after connections with the students we truly all serve. Through the elementary lens it’s easier to keep connected to the students for several years – especially in a smaller school setting (as is the case with in my current school and previous as well) However, all too often, once the students we serve leave for middle school those significant stakeholders in the students’ lives at the school often lose contact unless the students go out of their way to come back to the school to visit or unique situations like what happened with me last week. Alas, we need to be working for keeping those communication channels more open and accessible so when students leave our classrooms and/or school the bond remains strong. We talk about #KidsDeserveIt, doing what’s best for kids, etc. but we, as school leaders and vital stakeholders must do a better job of effectively keeping the those relationships strong and truly building a community after students are out of our “watch.” It truly takes a village. Challenge accepted – wheels turning. 🙂 KOKO. -Brendan


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