The One Folder Everyone Should Keep

At the end of the semester when all parties, students and professors alike, feel overburdened, I find myself advancing through each day like a doctor in triage.  I constantly assess my to-do list, judging what surely will die if I don't attend to it immediately and hoping that everything else survives in the meantime.  (There are always a few casualties.  Right now my sleep schedule, for example, could use resuscitation.  Paddles!  Bring me the paddles!  Stat!)

It's frenetic and weary, which is a horrible combination, like being asked to sprint through sludge.  You know that you should be progressing at a good clip, but you can't make your legs move at the right speed.

Yesterday, in the midst of this tiredness, I opened an email from a student in one of my public speaking classes.

I want to thank you so much for taking the extra mile for your students.   I held off taking this class for 7 semesters, and I have to say that having you as the professor was worth the wait.  Thanks for making this class as painless as possible for someone who hates public speaking, and even more, for making it enjoyable.  I had a rough semester but no matter how bad of a day I was having, starting my Tuesday and Thursday mornings with your welcoming aura really helped, and I truly appreciate it. 

Every time I receive a message like this from a student, whether a handwritten card or an email, I file it into a folder labeled ENCOURAGEMENT.  These are important folders.

When I scroll through the notes that I've compiled over the years, some names are familiar.  Others no longer are.  But the words are life-giving.  They serve as reminders to keep moving, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to keep pouring out and building up and standing firm and offering the most consistent, fair, thoughtful instruction and evaluation that I can muster.

Everyone should keep an encouragement folder.

And I'm convinced that everyone, when possible, should contribute to someone else's encouragement folder.  You never know when you brief gesture of encouragement will be the words that keep someone afloat.

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  1. I, too, keep an "encouragement" folder, though it's got a much clumsier title. Perhaps that comes with the fact that I teach kindergarten instead of college. :) But whenever I'm having a bad day, I take out those little notes from students and parents to remind me why I do it. I'm glad I'm not the only one in need of encouragement at times. You can do it, Robin!

    1. Shavahn, I believe that your encouragement folder would be a thick one, indeed. ;)

  2. Awww.. love this! Encouragement is so crucial to my survival as a mom, wife and friend. I treasure words so much! I have saved all the cards I have received from friends, my husband and kids. They are like gold! Since I love to be encouraged I try to encourage others. It really can make or break you depending on the words people speak into your life. Thanks for reminding me of this! Sharing!

    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca. I agree: some words of encouragement are worth their weight in gold.


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