like the back of my hand, i teach
Like the back of my hand there are only a few things that I know so well. The sound of my husband’s voice in a crowded room, reading a book, the look in my children’s eyes that tell me they’re happy or sad, and teaching.
As it does in most educators, teaching beats inside of me as a separate living soul. In university, nobody explained that you become a teacher. But you do. Doing the hard and holy work you were summoned for. Ask most teachers and they will say this:
I was called to do this.
If you don’t believe this was the case for you? Maybe, “it was just a good choice at the right time. I had nothing else to go into. The summer off sounded pretty cool.” That’s okay. Because I know, without a doubt, the hint of the thought that led you down this path, was a shout out for you! So don’t worry, I got your back. I’ll believe for you.
Teaching is hard and holy work.
OMGawd! I latched so quickly onto these words when Dr. Jody Carrington spoke them in her book, Kids These Days. Teaching is hard and holy. Like peanut butter & jam it’s two parts to the whole. And if you don’t get that (pardon my bluntness here), you’re in the wrong business.
Educators know the hard really well. Why else would many of us discourage our own children to pick any other profession in the world! The daily demands of teaching have continued to increase, along with the lack of time, the lack of space, the decreased value on what we do, the sky rocket of emotional needs in our students, and the increasing assault of negative forces into our schools. Shall I go on? This is the hard work that leaves many educators emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically spent at the end of 10 months.
If you're someone who doesn't spend your daily life within the walls of a school you only have some idea of what happens on a minute by minute basis. We make it look easy. It’s our job, and we stand on higher ground for that.
We smile when our children come in, welcome them to this holy space, and get on with our day. We armor up for what we need to, and soften up for everything else. Hard back, soft front.
The holy work drives everything we do. It’s seeing the divine worth of every child, and extending that outward. Creating a space where they feel seen and heard. Where we speak, and act with love. Where children deeply know their value. When this happens, learning happens. This is the real call for educators. This is the work that keeps us awake at night. The desire to be everything for our students and the knowing that we can’t. We’re only human.
The problem I've seen in many schools is that our attention is heavy on the hard.
It's time to flip the narrative.
I have a small plaque given to me by a colleague that says, “Love what you do.” I’ve sat with many educators who’ve forgotten that they once loved what they do. These teachers allow their attention to remain on the hard stuff. It’s not their fault. The system of education likes to spotlight the hard stuff. Right? How else do you make change happen? It’s also neurologically built into human beings to zero in on what threatens us. It’s naturally louder, bigger, and all we see... if we let it.
We don’t have to let it.
We can re-write our story.
FIRST: ACCEPT THE HARD
You bet your booty. It’s hard. This is a profession. It comes with work. Dig in and be professional. Do the work to the best of your abilities. It doesn’t demand your perfection. It demands your passion, your respect, and your engagement. It also requires that you understand there is a life on the other side building your resilience muscles so you can be truly capable.
Accept. Then move on.
This 1 little thought brings the ability to open your mind, find solutions, deal with what’s real in front of you. Fighting against it is like two rams knocking horns. You’re left with a headache! Acceptance moves us forward faster and with less grief.
SECOND: YOUR HOLY POWER IS YOUR SUPER POWER
Happiness studies are showing that knowing why you do what you do is more satisfying than finding “happiness” in what you do. It gives us purpose and meaning which has now been associated with longevity, better immune functioning, and overall mental and physical health. Serve the work, and you’ll serve your students. Bonus: also yourself.
You know it. I know it. Understanding that what you do makes a HUGE impact. And that impact doubles, triples, and spreads like wildfire into the world. You got me? This is the important part of teaching. I'm daring you to bravely step into it. You are leaders of future decision makers, creative minds, artistic enthusiasts.
Who you are decides what they will be.
That’s the holy power you've been given.
It’s okay to be human here. It’s freakin' scary and no small task. But this is what I know for sure: The collective knowledge, creativity, hope, and love among teachers is stronger than anywhere else.
You ARE the million things right.
Stand tall on this soapbox, shout it out, and tell your story. Lovingly and whole-heartedly get back to your roots and speak your truth about why you love this job, and what’s right in education. Speak it in your classrooms, in your staff rooms, in your schools. Speak it at the dinner table among friends when everyone is going off about what’s wrong with education and you have a different picture (which I recently experienced and am proud to say, I spoke clearly~high 5's all around)
So, for the love of teaching, do it. Re-write our story.
With love & appreciation,
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P.S. Let's raise our positive voice. Share your stories HERE I’d love to hear them.