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What is Your Legacy?

October 25, 2013

I took last week off from writing in my blog because of a long weekend and a few PD days. As well, I’ve left writing until Friday as I have wrestled with a topic for this week. So, I’m going to do something different this week and crowd source my blog.

Last week, a student sent this question to me through email: “What do you want your impact as a teacher to be on the world?” I want to use this blog to answer the question but also to find out what others have to say.

I want to be an agent of positive change in the lives of my students. That is not to say that I want to be the one who changes them. I want to be a teacher that helps students realize their own capacities and encourages them to follow their passions. I want to be a teacher who makes education more than a curriculum for my students. I want to encourage my students to question and to seek answers to questions. When they do not succeed, I want to be the teacher who encourages them to try again, and again and again. I want to celebrate successes and failure. I want to be the lead learner in my classroom and demonstrate to my students that learning does not stop. I want to embody John Dewey’s philosophy that education is not preparation for life – education is life itself. This is the impact I want to have.

What’s yours? If you have the time and the inclination to comment on my blog, please answer the same question above. I will post your comments and share them with my students.

All the best,


  1. Great question, Sean.

    I want to help my students see the wonder in the (particularly natural) world all around them, especially those who seem to be satisfied with being ‘sophisticated’ and chronically unimpressed. I want my students to see the value in humans and in relationships, in diversity and difference, and who see the potential to learn something interesting and valuable wherever they go and whatever they do. I want to help my students learn how to be thoughtful about what they see, hear and read, and to teach them that uncritical skepticism and uncritical belief are equally easy and equally limiting.

    Another Sean

    • Sean,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I cannot take credit for the question – that goes directly to one of my GR 12 students. I will be sure to share your comment with her.

  2. I want to be a teacher that inspires students to try something audaciously BIG, which will (with great effort and insight) change the world.

  3. Although it may sound egocentric but it really is about creating a legacy. What legacy will you leave behind when your first or last class leaves? Did you leave students better off because of your involvement with them? Did they feel cherished, respected and fairly challenged? Did they recognize your passion for teaching and learning and believe, truly believe that you were with them all along the journey? We need to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and with gut wrenching honesty, know that we did everything we could to create that legacy. Anything less and we should be disappointed because we’ve let our students down.

    • Chris,

      I really like the image of looking in the mirror with “gut wrenching honesty.” Speaks volumes to your orientation toward students and teachers in your district.

  4. I guess I don’t want my legacy to be egocentric. If my students are curious, love learning, think independently, and care about others enough to make the world a better place… and I helped get them there is some shape or form, then that’s the legacy I choose.

  5. C Paske permalink

    It is a powerful question for any teacher to answer and one I feel fraught with difficulty (perhaps the wrong word) because of the many competing demands placed on teachers by students, parents, admin, government and our own personal philosophies.

    I think this line from your post embodies everything a teacher should be: ” I want to embody John Dewey’s philosophy that education is not preparation for life – education is life itself.” If we can inspire a student to care for, wonder about and explore the world and its many facets, we have done something valuable and wonderful.

    For me, I want my legacy to be different for each student I teach. My goal is to be what each of my students needs me to be on that given day, at that given time, in that given situation. I might need to be:

    – a repository of information
    – a coach
    – a mentor
    – a friend
    – a disciplinarian
    – a philosopher
    – a student myself
    – merely a presence – them knowing I’m there for whatever they need, even if they never need anything.
    – on some days – all of the above!

    That is the legacy I hope I have.

  6. I had to spend some time thinking about this one. I think I want my legacy to be one of creating space in which students can really be themselves, find something they love and a way to live it. I want my students to be thoughtful and loving and tolerant and proud of who they are and confident enough to speak up. I want my students to feel like that they can do anything or be anybody. I want to be their biggest fan and a shoulder to stand on as they climb…

    • Deirdre,

      Thank you for your comment. I really like the image of the students standing on our shoulders as they climb.

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