Monday, October 13, 2014

Remembering why I’m grateful to be a BC teacher

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in all the things I can’t change as a teacher. Which is a lot. The size of the classroom. The number of books to meet the needs and passions of my new students. The in-class support. The adverse conditions at home.

But there are even more things I can change. Small things: noticing a student, adding a visual, acknowledging effort. I know how much small things can make a difference. What’s more, what I do have, when I lift my eyes to think into the past or across the world is extraordinary. On a trip to Uganda I visited a school. They had children of all ages in one room – very big girls who had never been to school before a law requiring attendance sat alongside very small children. When I asked to see the library, I was shown a book room with a handful of worn and out-dated textbooks. I have so much.

It’s easy, too, very easy, to get lost in all the things I do wrong as a teacher. Which is a lot. Every day.The small things I didn't change. The student I didn't notice again, the conversation that went sideways, the lesson that slid into chaos. But there are at least as many things I’m pretty sure (I’m hoping) that go well, small “aha” moments, students who realize their extraordinary potential as they learn, a child who feels a sense of accomplishment at last, a kindness that lands.

Dear Ms. Beleznay: 
I have learned so much about English and Literature but more about life. I promise never to ‘bury my gift.’ You have taught me so much and I will be forever grateful. No words can express how thankful I am to have had you in my life.  I will never forget all I have learned (or you).  

Dear Ms. Beleznay:
I like the way you teach. In all my other classes I would never state my opinions aloud, and by doing things as a class, I've gained more confidence in my thoughts and opinions. I think that each and every person should have a chance to realize that their thoughts are valued as much as the next. You helped me realize that, so I thank you very much!

Dear Ms. Beleznay:
I've never really been smart, but you make me feel like I’m glowing. Thank you for everything. I’m truly grateful.

No matter how often I get lost, I am grateful that I always find my way back through the astonishingly kind words of children who routinely forgive my blunders, or if they are silent (and most are), in their shining eyes, in a frown of concentration, a surprised “I get it!” I am grateful to be a teacher. I am grateful for the extraordinary resources available to me, for the open hearts of the students I teach, for the impossible generosity of the teachers I work with, and most of all, for the opportunity to do work that matters every day.

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