I believe in being a teacher. Every day we all face myriad challenges that touch us deep into the root of our souls. We see the best and sometimes the very worst of humanity all held in the face and eyes of a little girl or boy. I assert that I am a teacher more to remind myself of that fact than to make a declaration. I am a teacher, but in so many ways I am the pupil, the learner, the receiver of lessons. My students teach me something new everyday. They remind me of my own humanity – they encourage me to search for the best in myself. My students are the very definition of flexibility, patience, grace under pressure, and love. When I am tempted to lose my own patience, I am reminded of a child who quietly and obediently waited 8 years to see his father’s face again. When I look to complain about changes made in a schedule, or unexpected meetings or telephone calls, I think about how eager my own students are to try something new, whether it be a new food or a new climate. I think of how their big brown eyes widen in anticipation of the first snowfall. When I feel I want to give up, I think of one little earnest face, one who holds her head high despite the physical loss of a father and country and the emotional loss of her extended support system. I think of another boy who in his endearingly matter of fact way tells me the horror story of an uncle, thrown from the back of a truck as immigration officials pursued them across the border. I believe these stories remind me of my partnership with my students and my responsibility to them. All of our student have so many stories from which we can learn. They don’t always tell their stories with the black and white candor of adult voices. I believe that sometimes we have to lean in really close, listen ever so carefully, and read between the lines.
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