There you stand. One against many.
Covered in chalk dust, you wonder, “Did it work?”
“Is it in there?”
“Do you understand me?”
And your mind goes back to Sunday night as you stare at the well-worn notebook that contains your copious notes, full of graphite marks and inked circles. The hours of painstaking review stack up like a house of cards, ready to fall at a moment’s notice. You shift papers and rearrange quizzes to ensure they will not be mixed in together because, heaven help you if you have to do it again.
And then you snap back to reality when a student says, “I don’t get it.”
It hits like a bucket of cold water in the face.
Your eyes go to another face, hoping, praying that maybe – just maybe – knowledge has found its way home. “Does anybody get it?” you wonder quietly to yourself.
And in that moment, you see it. The crack of a smile from a student. This is the smile of understanding, of recognition. This is the smile of, ‘Oh…now I see it’. This is the fuel that lets you know you are on to something, you are not a fraud.
You are where you were destined to be.
You have done something amazing. In your own small way, you have helped move humanity forward. Without fanfare or esteem, you have performed a miracle for that child, our communities, our world – whether the student, their parents, or the school district see it or not.
More than any of that – you know that knowledge is there, and that’s all you need.
Because you are a teacher!
You are an advocate for growth, of possibilities.
You are parent, you are coach, you are mentor.
You take that which did not exist and create infinite possibilities.
You are a magician, capable of incredible feats most would not dare.
David Copperfield has nothing on you.
You are a healer, possessing the ability to help people see our world, not the way it is, but rather the way it should be from another point of view.
You bring life.
You bring promise.
You bring hope for the sun amid the days of floods.
But only if you see it.
Only if you are capable of cutting through the noise, the late nights and the doubts.
Only if your resolve is strong enough.
And when you fail, will you try again for your students? Can you not write them off but rather see them as your teacher? Can you see they are helping you see more than one way to solve the problem that they desperately need your guidance to solve?
Because they need you. We need you. We need your gift now more than ever.
And we cannot guarantee this leads to the riches you deserve unless the smile of a child is worth more to you than what most people consider ‘payment for services rendered’.
If you can, you are fortunate in that you have a fulfilling life because you are living in service to others.
So for what it’s worth – thank you!
Thank you for putting yourself out there for our children.
Thank you for taking the pittance of a salary for the value you provide.
For the phone calls, late nights, and conferences.
For having to deal with the worst of us so you can see the best we can be as people, thank you!
The only reason any of us are where we are is because of those who knew us before we knew ourselves.
And our teachers have showed us the way.