Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 1 comment

The positive impact of little things

Yes, We Rise| The positive impact of little things
Nelson Mandela, Getty Images
There have been countless studies that have been done on the impact of positive role models on children. A study by Bryan & Zimmerman (2003) highlighted the importance of familial adult role models. Even those who come from two parent households benefit from positive adults. Everyone can benefit from the influence of a positive model whether it is in an educational, employment or social setting.

My mother always said that someone is always watching you, so be careful how you carry yourself. That being said, I'm glad I came of age in the era prior to the social media revolution. Our missteps are now magnified in real time; with a 1000 likes. Though we have grown by leaps and bounds technologically, we are many ways the same as we were hundreds of years ago psychologically. We run, fall, brush ourselves off and repeat. As adults we need to remember that.


I was reminiscing with some friends on Facebook the other day and a former classmate remarked that her oldest son had met me when I spoke to a group of young men several years back. She was surprised that she "knew" Dr. White. We both had a good laugh about that, and I was both humbled and very pleased that I was able to make a positive impression on this young man in few moments of his very busy life.

One of the reasons that I became a teacher was because of the impact that two teachers had on me as a student; Mr. Jones (Junior High School) and Mr. Rozanski (High School). Though they were in two different states and were very different men... they showed a passion for what they did in many ways. While Mr. Jones probably spent more time redirecting me that he would have liked, I knew that he was "real". And although that was 30 years ago, he is one of the voices that have popped into my head when his words ring true. Mr. Rozanski was one of the educators that reinforced the duty that you have to yourself and society.

"What are you doing?"

That was the open ended question that he would often ask of me. The question has stuck with me for many years. I found myself recently asking myself that very question internally, while querying my students with the same. It has been inserted into any conversation that I have been fortunate to have with young people.


Yes, We Rise| The positive impact of little things
Many people seem to believe that you have to put on an elaborate presentation when you decide to help someone out. That can't be farther from the truth.

In another conversation, I brought up the importance of a young man being able to tie a tie (a bow tie is a plus), to properly fill out an employment form or open a savings account. While you may not have to wear a tie more than two to three times a year, it is an important life skill; as are the other examples. These tools can prove to be invaluable. But someone has to teach them to those who don't know.

While we are faced with some very large issues in our communities, these seemingly small acts do positively impact the community. The involvements, on an individual level, are the starting points for change. Best of all they are free! That is micro-leadership in action; producing positive outcomes through positive actions.

So the next time that the media has you feeling helpless, be open to your next opportunity to help a young person help themselves. Some of the best lessons are the ones where you don’t think that you learning anything at the time.



Bryant, A. L., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2003). Role models and psychosocial outcomes among African American adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 18, 36-67.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is one of several measures. At some level you can't deny the benefit of knowing whether a child can read "Sally ran up the street." OR "5 x 6 = 30". But it shouldn't be the end all or be all. As frustrating as mandatory testing has been, we have seen huge expansion of quality education to the poor and oft in the past neglected populations of our country. I don't think testing is a panacea. But it helps more than it hurts.

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