I Believe in Change

David - Concord, North Carolina
Entered on April 27, 2011
Themes: change
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

While I believe a good many things, change is the thing that stands out to me as a constant that I cannot avoid and, therefore, must embrace. I believe in change.

Nothing captures this more in my life than two notes I received from students early in my teaching career. The first I found midway through my first year of teaching. I was cleaning up my room after school and I noticed a note written neatly in tiny penciled letters on one of the desktops. “Mr. Taylor sucks.” I was more resigned than angry. What the note said was true. I knew it was a far more honest critique of my first year of teaching than the glowing, nearly perfect evaluation my principal had written a week earlier. As a teacher, I did suck.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the last word on my teaching career. That summer between my first and second year I worked hard to prepare for the next school year. I thought about all the things I’d failed to do in my first year of teaching and planned for the coming year. I planned for a better year and had one. In fact, it was an amazing year for me and better for my students. I fell in love with teaching. At the end of that second year, one of my students handed me a note. It read: “Thanks for being there when I need it. Because if it wasn’t for you I don’t know where I would be.”

I learned many lessons during those early years of my teaching career but none more powerful to me than the fact that change is constant. I also learned that we can learn and adapt. It’s the lesson that helped me get from year one to year two in my teaching and beyond.

I’ve moved from the middle school classroom to the college classroom. As a teacher educator, I try to share what I’ve learned with my students to help prepare them for their own classrooms….for change.

My wife has brought butterflies into our lives–literally–in the form of Monarch butterfly eggs which she has lovingly raised for many years. We watch dot-sized eggs hatch and grow from tiny, barely perceptible caterpillars into adults. Seemingly overnight, they wrap themselves into cocoons and emerge days later completely transformed—butterflies in all their beauty bearing no resemblance to their former selves.

There can be no butterflies without change, only caterpillars. The same is true for us humans. Our lives are change, a constant metamorphosis. When I look in the mirror I certainly see no butterfly, but I do see amidst the smattering of gray hair and deepening creases around my eyes, the possibility that so long as I have life in me I can learn and adapt in the face of change and leave the world, or at least the part I inhabit, a little better off than when I arrived.