Thank you Mr. Cannon for inspiring my daughter…and for inspiring me

On Monday morning I received a text message from my daughter.

She asked me if I could take her to lunch that day.  I fired off a list of things I had to do as I was walking on the treadmill (don’t do this at home, it’s very dangerous to text and treadmill at the same time).  Honestly, what was she thinking, asking me something silly like that.

And then I got her response.

Mr. Cannon died.

Just like that. Everything stopped.

Mr. Cannon died.

George Cannon, South Burlington High School Teacher via the Burlington Free Press

Photo via the Burlington Free Press. George Cannon teaching Chemistry class.

And just like that everything changed.

Several days have now passed. I won’t bore you with the details of the process we’ve gone through here in my household except to say that it’s been a time of sadness, tears, avoidance, reflection, laughter, stories, and unease.

My heart goes out to Mr. Cannon’s family and close friends and to his students. Based on the memorial group in Facebook, it is clear that he touched so many lives in a positive way, it is almost unbelievable.

But I believe it.

I’ve seen what he has done for my daughter in just a few short weeks. She went into her chemistry class with a sense of uncertainty, and some curiosity…and came out after the first day ecstatic.  I began to hear stories of burp charts, juggling, chemistry experiments, and saw her come alive as she talked about her favorite class and what a great day she had.

As an educator myself reading the comments from students (even some of my students) who had him at South Burlington has been a learning opportunity. Taking a break from my teaching on sabbatical has allowed me to rest, refresh and begin to think about my teaching approach. I never thought that a man I never met would leave me with inspiration to dig even deeper to explore how I might do things differently. Change my approach. Rethink my process.

And yet, he has.

There is much to say about a man who can touch lives of people he hasn’t even met.

I’m grateful today for the internet. No. Really.  It is because of YouTube, and several video interviews that George Cannon participated in that I can be even further inspired and challenged in my work.

On Classroom Climate:

On Advice to Educators:

As the SB Community comes together to mourn and then celebrate the life of this amazing man (here’s a link to the obit) I’m left with a sense of loss of never having had the chance to know this man personally, and yet also a sense of optimism as I reflect on his advice that has been left for educators all over to consider:

The biggest impediment to optimal student learning is the limitation of their teacher.

Anything that comes out of a student’s mouth, in my mind, is the beginning of correctness.

So thank you Mr. Cannon.  Thank you for what you have done for my daughter. For your kind words last week when she turned on the showers, and they wouldn’t stop, and you thanked her for creating a wonderful and memorable learning opportunity for the class as you raced around sopping up the water that was leaking everywhere.

Thank you for inspiring me to be an even better teacher.

Tags: , , , ,