The Butterfly Effect

“The affect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”

I love this quote.

I have shared this with my students over the past few years. It comes from a commencement speech given by Jim Carrey back in 2014. In my mind, it perfectly captures not only what I want my students to remember on a day-to-day basis as they live their lives, but also how I feel as a teacher. I try to keep this at the forefront of my mind as I go through the day. It mirrors the reason I became a teacher in the first place.

Jim Carrey delivering his commencement speech (2014)

As I reflect on my past year of teaching, and I prepare to release into the loving arms of Summer break, I smile remembering this quote, because it was a good year for me. I learned a lot, met many new and wonderful people. There were many people this year who made a positive and lasting impression on me. I hope I did the same for them. One of the most wonderful moments as a teacher is when you receive a handwritten card from a student, and they thank you not just for teaching them…but for making their life better in some way. It doesn’t get any better than that for me.

That makes it all worth it.

There’s a short story I teach my students by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury. The name of the short story is, “A Sound of Thunder.” While the story is a cautionary tale explaining how each tiny action we make can potentially have huge repercussions in the future, I see the positive side of that as well. I agree with “The Butterfly Effect.” I think that we have the potential to negatively affect our surroundings, and therefore, the future.

More importantly, the opposite is also true. We have the potential to change someone’s life with every interaction we have. We can make their life better, and by extension, we will creating a better future. I really do believe that. Sometimes you lose more than you win. Sometimes it seems like advice that’s easier said than done. But if you keep this in your mind for every interaction, you will positively change someone’s life. They will then pass it on to someone else. And that person will pass it on.

And that’s how the world changes for the better. I’m so lucky to get this opportunity on a mass scale every time I step in to my classroom.

Jim Carrey makes a lot of sense. It’s an incredibly inspiring speech, and I will post the highlights here for your viewing pleasure. I hope you love it as much as me.


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