What Do You Agonize About?
Lately I have been praying for some of my friends and colleagues in the education profession. Some of you may think that is odd while others may be saying, “don’t forget to send a few prayers my way,” but I am sincere in my thoughts because for 25 plus years, I lived in their world. I know the toll that teaching other people’s children can take on an individual, especially when emotionally you invest almost everything you have into a child on any given school day that you don’t leave much for your own children and your own family by the time you get home. I am not saying it is right or wrong or that it is the only way that it should be done, but in my experience those who are invested in this manner cannot help themselves because it is who they are. Their DNA will not allow them not to give everything they have in order to make the greatest impact they possibly can on a student.
We are so blessed to have so many teachers, support staff, and administrators in the education profession who care so much and also give so much because they want to see their students experience joy and just as important, to have their students know what it feels like to be a successful learner. Yet, these same passionate and caring teachers and school leaders who are so committed to making a difference also spend countless hours agonizing over their work because they fear the thought of not reaching a child. Even more heartbreaking is when they can see all of a student’s potential slipping away that it brings them to tears because for whatever reason they are not able to see it in themselves at that very moment. I often reflect back on my first year of teaching and can still hear my principal saying to me, “Jimmy, everybody has a savior but it isn’t always going to be you.” Then after a slight pause he would say, “But it doesn’t give you an excuse not to try.”
I was recently at an academic award ceremony when I heard my former colleague and good friend Joy Kelly (@joykelly05) share something in her message to the students and parents that we often talked about a lot as an administrative team with our staff when we were addressing the countless situations that we were facing in working with students and families. She reminded everyone in the audience the role our staff plays today in teaching our children and in some instances, the role our students play in reaching other students. You see, our teachers are faced with the task of teaching all children; the gifted, children with special needs, the engaged learner as well as the reluctant learner, the homeless, those who have been incarcerated and those who are suffering from mental illness. The best teachers love all of their students, regardless of their sexual identity, their level of income whether they be affluent or poor or been the victim of physical or mental abuse or are absent from school more often than they are in attendance. Regardless of the severity of the challenges facing them or their students, many of our teachers and principals in schools today are investing everything they have in them because they know that what they agonize over is also the same thing that keeps them up at night; the opportunity to make a significant impact on a student that will change their course in life forever in a positive way. The greatest reward there is for educators for trying and never giving up.
So for my friends and colleagues out their tonight who are agonizing, know that your Kodak, or perhaps I should say Kleenex, moments are coming. Either way know that I am praying for you and hoping that a good cry is coming your way soon as you see your efforts be rewarded by a heartfelt thank you from a student or parent this school year or in this case, from a colleague who cares about you and appreciates you and the work you do on a daily basis.
Blessings to all of you, our teachers, secretaries, teaching assistants, custodians, cooks and administrators as you approach this holiday break!