At the age of eight, I decided to become an educator. There was the time when I wanted to be a librarian (still wouldn't mind it!), a veterinarian (until I realized I couldn't deal with the aftermath of my childhood dog's run-in with a car [he was fine, by the way]), and a personal trainer (that one still mostly baffles me), but in my heart, I always knew I would be a teacher. Many people think it's because my mom teaches (phenomenally, might I add), and I spent countless after-school hours in her classroom. I'll be the first to admit that those beautiful hours probably played a big part, but my mom never once steered me in any certain direction, and my desire to teach came from somewhere inside me. I think it was rooted in me from the start.
Teaching is a hard, hard job, and it's often thankless. It is my belief that educators put their entire hearts into everything involving their jobs. They are not separate from their careers — how could they be? And that boils down to feeling every ache and groan of the job way deep down in the gut.
In the past month, I have seen more negative media directed at teachers than I ever have before. Don't get me wrong, I've seen my fair share of hurtful, empty commentary in my time as a teacher, but in the past month it's been everywhere. I make a conscious choice everyday to ignore that noise. It's not helpful, it serves no purpose (keep in mind, I'm not referring to constructive criticism), it's misguided, and it's mostly wrong. But even those of us who choose to stay away from that which is not uplifting are occasionally blindsided by the snippet that unknowingly worms its way into our atmospheres.
And this is what I'd like to contribute to the overflowing noise that is modern-day education:
Teachers, in the midst of stormy skies, you are the sunshine. You give and give and expect nothing in return. Your well is bottomless. You work tirelessly to reinvent curriculum and interpret standards and when your efforts don't work, you never fear going back to the drawing board. You mend hearts. You give thousands of pep talks, daily. You hold hands and celebrate tiny triumphs that would simply go unnoticed by others. You teach what's not in textbooks. You buy supplies for those who are without.
You have an ocean of patience, an endless supply of compassion, and you know when all you can do to make it through is laugh. You ignite passion for reading and writing and mathematics and science and social studies. You make time for all the subjects, even when there isn't even a second left to spare. You pull time from thin air and then use it to teach invaluable lessons.
You find silver linings in mundane situations. You root for co-workers and students tirelessly and with vigor. You gather information about individual students and make a purposeful effort to learn more about Ninjago, insects, volcanoes, origami, hamsters, Doc McStuffins — just to forge a meaningful connection. You read books in theatrical, over-the-top voices just to watch eyes get wide and mouths drop open.
You search for the magic that you know is behind those twinkling eyes and you hold onto it and save it to remember that these are just kids standing in front of you with their big hearts and even bigger dreams — dreams that you can foster and share and lift up.
It is you who builds the raft and blows wind into the sails and keeps the ship floating. You are the glue and the glitter and the hope that is left when every tiny, tiny detail is boiled down to its barest bones. It is you.