Be the change, being a teacher

Because We Teach

How do you follow up a blog post that writes about how you don’t want to be a hero?

How do we adequately describe what it means to pick up the pieces and keep on teaching, even though it seems America has gone mad?  Even though some people, including our president, are saying that we should be armed in order to protect the children we teach?

How do I write about all of the seemingly trivial components of what it means to be a teacher, what it means to teach,  when once again we have been reminded we may be the single difference between a child feeling loved and a child feeling the need to kill.

Where I live we have had a threat in a school in our county every day in the past week.  It doesn’t even feel surprising anymore.

And yet, as we walk through our doors our days continue to unfold.  We slide back into the same old routines, but with a heightened sense of awareness.  We truly look at our students, look them in the eyes, and we say thank you when they leave us for the hour, for the day.

We say good morning and mean it.

Ask them about their day.

Sit next to them as we re-teach, explain, and help where we can.

We look for warning signs but we also look for the good.  We notice the good.  We point out the good.

On my computer hangs a post-it note that says, “Which child are you giving up on?”  Inspired by a conversation Lisa Meade shared, this simple note is my constant reminder that in our school we don’t give up on anyone.  That in our school, we seek out all of the kids.  That in our school we don’t want invisible children.  That when we think we have done enough, there is always more to do.

That in our room, their presence matters.  That they came, despite the obstacles that may have been in their way.  That in this room, their presence makes my day better even if they are not sure others care.

So when we pick up the pieces after yet another mass shooting, we do so with care.  We renew our vow to continue to be focused on kids first, teaching second.  To take the time to truly get to know the kids we teach, not because someone told us we had to, but because we cannot imagine not knowing them.  And we use the fear that may be following us into our rooms as a way to drive us all toward goodness.

We remember that because we teach we get to be a part of the conversation of what happens next.

That because we teach we get a choice to either focus on kindness, empathy, understanding and acceptance, rather than hate and mistrust.

That because we teach we get to have a say in how students view the world.

That because we teach we get to tell a child every single day that they matter.

That we are glad they are with us.

That we are proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves.

We remember that because we teach we have the power to change the future.

And that is how we pick up the fragile pieces once more and carry on toward a future that involves the very heart of this country.

A future that we have the power to make better.


7 thoughts on “Because We Teach”

  1. Perfect. We teach whole people, not just brains. In the era of test prep, rigor, and stress some may have forgotten. I love your post-it reminder.
    How can community volunteers help in schools to support the kids who need the extras? Truly so much begins with the relationships. My heart aches for all of us.

  2. I love your blog posts. They are honest but also uplifting They remind us all of why we do what we do. Your line hinting of “the seemingly trivial components of what it means to be a teacher, what it means to teach” is answered in your blog- showing there is nothing trivial about what good educators do. Educators can inspire students, teach them to be critical thinkers, broaden their perspectives, view the world through the eyes of others, inspire them to choose kindness, and to know they can make a difference in this world which we are seeing happening after the Florida tragedy. Your blog, your words hold so much meaning to those who read them, and they are one more way you make a difference. Thank you!

  3. as you so often do, you hit it right on the head. We do strive to not give up on any child, no matter how much it feels like the world has. It can be really, really challenging, but we know that those kids are the ones who need us the most.

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