Gone, But Not Forgotten

Since taking a position outside of the classroom three years ago, I always get a little antsy as the school year approaches. No matter how much I enjoy my current role (and I enjoy it very much), I can’t help but miss the buzz of the year’s beginning in a school. Wide eyes of incoming students starting a brand new year of physics classes, smiles and high-fives from colleagues in the hallway, energizing exhaustion from organizing and re-organizing the classroom space: few experiences match the energy of those moments in the year.

In that vein, I was driving home this afternoon reflecting on an old adage: “Gone, but not forgotten.” It’s a sentiment often saved for retirements and funerals, but it could be applied for any of us that have moved to a new role, a new school, a new profession. I started hoping that while I may be gone from the classroom I “lived in” for 7 years, I am not forgotten in the eyes of those former students and co-workers. 

I ruminated on that sentiment for a few minutes…and then I considered its opposite:

“Here, but not remembered.”

I’m guessing it goes without saying that the former would easily trump the latter. But how many of us have considered whether or not we will be remembered for what we do right now?

Another adage comes to mind, one which was debatably coined by either Confucius, the Buddha, or my Uncle Jim: “No matter where you go…once you get there, you look around, and there you are.” And just like the mall directory always points out for us:


What will you do today, while you are wherever “here” is for you, to ensure that you are remembered? That one day, you will be gone, but not forgotten?

I’m hopeful that every day, each of us can drive home thinking, “If I’m remembered for that, I have lived a good life.” The question is, how did today stack up against that vision?

5 thoughts on “Gone, But Not Forgotten

  1. Teachers have a special relationship with "Gone but not forgotten." Most of us read something every day. Yet how many times do we remember the teachers who taught us to read? Most of adults do multiplication and division effortlessly. Yet how many reflect on that teacher? Just now, as an almost 30 year-old educator, I’m beginning to make a conscious effort to remember those who taught me. It’s usually in a moment of quietude, when I’m not focusing on too many things at once. Beginning of the year stress is exactly what you described. It’s a catharsis. The tension and buildup of not knowing what the new year holds, and the release of finally jumping into the work… You might be feeling the stress without a definitive release.Regarding your last paragraph, I recently found this. Ira Glass wrote it for artists, but describes a learning curve that teachers also do. Watch the video. Great Advice for Creativeshttp://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/great-advice-for-creativesThank you for your post.John VS.R. ES Music Teacher

  2. Fascinating. I’d love to see someone study whether inspirational, dynamic teaching is encouraged or discouraged in various environments. And if so, how? The reason I’m asking is that many phenomenal teachers experience undertow from parents, co-workers, or administrators simply because the odds are most inspirational teachers are the opposite of conformist. I’m thinking about how Esme Codell (memoir: Educating Esme) who stuck out like a sore thumb, to the point where her administrators were actively against her, despite showing amazing growth on test scores. I’m thinking about Ron Clark, who blatantly went against what his principal wanted him to do, using his rule system that he knew would work wonders with kids.I consider myself very lucky to teach in a work climate where innovation is actively encouraged. My fear is that in many districts, the weight of "we’ve always done it this way" prevails. In the private sector, if you fail to innovate, the company goes under. Schools should take a cue from Google. They allow their employees what they call "20% Time" in which an employee can take 20% of his day or week to work on a new idea without fear of reprisal from the management. The idea for Gmail came out of this. Once I had a mentor teacher with 50 yeas experience in education. He’d taught children all over the world, and had a terminal degree. I’ll never forget reading an article he wrote in one of our professional journals entitled, "Change Comes Slowly in Red Brick Buildings." The article skewered practices of carrying out the status quo in American public education.I’ve never worked in corporate America. I’ve never worked outside of the public sector. I’ve never been anything but a teacher. So I’m unaware of what I don’t know. Perhaps all institutions–public and private–deal with the ups and downs of doing things the traditional way. If you go to the library and pick up a copy of Harvard Business Review, you’ll see all sorts of articles directed at CEO’s and upper management on how to create an organization that creates. While many would say that innovation can only come from a bottom-up management structure (as opposed to a top-down one) I think Google is proving that you can make policies that actively encourage innovation. Netflix lets their employees work whenever they want, as long as they get the job done. (Cool!)

  3. Pingback: O Captain My Captain: Lessons in Leadership from Derek Jeter | Learning to Lead Learning

  4. Pingback: Thank You For Learning With Me | Learning to Lead Learning

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