5 Lessons From Teachers That Changed My Life & Inspired Me To Teach

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In Honor and Deep Gratitude For My Teachers

People will not remember what you said nor did, they will remember how you made them feel. – Maya Angelo

We all have had them: the teachers that change our lives.  The ones we remember long after the experience has passed.  They leave an imprint on our lives and our spirits. It is with my deepest gratitude that I share the lessons I have learned from some of my most important teachers. Through their guidance I made it through the hardest times in my life and was inspired to become a teacher and coach myself so that I might give back what these individuals gave to me.

Lesson #1: There is an important place for each of us here.

For me, it started in elementary school with my first grade teacher. She was kind, gentle, compassionate and beautiful.  She also made the best chocolate cake ever!  She always knew exactly what I needed--or so it seemed.  She handled the classroom with a compassionate, loving gaze, never raising her voice or acting in a commanding way.  I still remember how she made me feel–like I mattered.  She certainly helped catapult me through the next years of my elementary school experience.  The memory of her loving voice was enough.

Lesson #2: Being a tall girl (even 5'12" is a good thing).

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A few years later I entered the awkward teenage years. Midway through my 13th year, I was six feet tall and towered over everyone else in my small school.  The high school basketball coach noticed and began to recruit me in sixth grade, and by seventh grade I was all in.

Back then we played 3 on 3, and I was a forward offensive player.  I quickly found my footing and my first love, basketball.   During high school my coach saw me through on the court.  He was supportive and believed in me.  I excelled, winning awards, breaking school records, and leaning into and gaining strength from my time on the court, especially when life off the court got difficult.

Lesson #3: Work hard, but keep laughing.

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In the classroom, the pivotal teacher was my English teacher.  He was hard – so hard.    I complained at home and to my classmates about how he made us do so much work and how hard he was on us.  I look back now and I remember his smile, his quick wit, and all that he taught me.  I felt different when I was in his class.  His passion for teaching and for life was contagious and I caught it every time I walked in the door.   He might be rather surprised that I am now a writer.

Lesson #4: Moderation in everything.

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As I transitioned to college and signed to play basketball, I met my college basketball coach.  I met him while in high school, and I remembered his warm smile and easygoing way.  He taught us moderation in everything was the best approach. He saw me through some hard times and believed in me all the way.  There is no doubt that his support changed my life. The practical life wisdom he shared on the court has aided me off the court ever since.

Lesson #5: The power of great love.

After a diagnosis of breast cancer, the death of my mother, and a need to get a grip on life, I met my first yoga teacher.  I was holding all the stuff of my life in the cells of my body.  It was showing up in terrible ways.  I couldn’t sleep, breathe or live.  I was almost totally shut down and going through the motions of life.  Through a series of events I ended up in a yoga studio.

I had no idea how my life was getting ready to change.  I began a regular practice and I got stronger. I learned to heal and to let go.  It was no accident that this was happening; it was with the help of my teacher, who was compassionate, loving and believed in me.  Through his presence I felt different, as if I was stronger and capable of doing whatever I wanted to.

I most certainly wouldn’t be here today in the way that I am without his support and loving guidance.  The experience changed my life so deeply that I felt called to become certified to teach yoga.  I wanted to give to others that which my teacher had given to me—hope. Hope that lights the darkest of times and that gives us the opportunity to heal, and to live life fully.

It is with my deepest heartfelt gratitude to all of my teachers that I share these stories. It is also my great joy to share this journey with others through writing, speaking, teaching yoga and health and wellness coaching.

Who have been your greatest teacher and what did they teach you? I would love to hear your stories of how you have been inspired through the passion and dedication of the teachers in your life!