On Teaching

So, a couple of years ago, I took this job teaching littles with false expectations. I mean—I had been teaching the people who are over 3 feet for almost 6 years now—how hard could this be? I thought that teaching three hours a week for three days a week would be an easy way to earn some extra money. Turns out, I was so wrong. So wrong in fact that I spent the first day of my new job curled up crying on the bathroom floor wondering what I had done. Wondering why 6 out of 12 kids spent one fourth of the day crying. Wondering why giving somebody a dog sticker instead of a spider man sticker could precipitate a major tantrum. Wondering why, once I had finally wrangled the unruly ones into a semi-straight line, someone had to go to the bathroom. Wondering why once that someone went to the bathroom, the entire class had to go to the bathroom. Wondering why Johnny looked at Suzie and now Suzie is crying . . . again. Well—they weren’t the only ones who cried and needed their mom that first day. I honestly wondered “why” this until halfway through the school-year, and then I realized. Children. They are precious. Their laughter is one of the purest medicines. Their minds—when they’re not having meltdowns over having the wrong color crayon—are brilliant. They get excited about the smallest, coolest things—Look! An orange leaf! Look! A grey squirrel! Look! Look! It’s raining! Look! I am wearing purple today! They represent what is good and what is free and what is fully alive in all of us. Their innocence is staggering wisdom. They celebrate every season. They don’t see prejudice or hatred. They don’t put people into boxes– well– sometimes actually they do, but it usually incites a great laugh for everybody. And sometimes when the headlines get really dark and ugly, that small corner– the classroom– becomes a sanctuary of light and hope for the future. Because these children are the future, and while many of them already have lots of love, many of them—like all of us do—need lots of love, too. And we can help one child—one person—in the same way we wish we could help every child—every person.

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