This I Believe

Penny - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Entered on May 1, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

My students sass me every day. They have a special talent for teasing me, and I’ve come to expect it of them. I started teaching eleven years ago, and each year I try really hard to engage my students—both personally and academically—because I believe in them. I believe that they will do great things if only they know that they can do great things. And I believe they can lead our world to a better place.

I believe in my students, and I know they will challenge me as long as I continue showing up for class. I know that every morning they will come in and say something unexpected. They’ll ask questions I won’t know the answers to, and they’ll think about things in ways I have not thought about them before. They’ll challenge me to keep thinking new thoughts, keep reading new books, and keep opening my mind to new ideas. And in the process, they’ll make me a better teacher.

I believe in my students, but I know they are going to mess up. The will blow off their homework, or forget to bring their books, or ignore my instructions. They won’t always make good decisions, and some of their choices will disappoint me. I know they will mess up, but I also believe that they will overcome their mistakes. They will go back and read the chapter they skipped; they will take time to organize their essays next time. They will seek out guidance when they are stuck so that they can improve, little by little, with each passing experience.

I believe in my students because I need for them to surpass me—to write more eloquently, to read more critically, to think more openly—and out pace me in every way. I believe in my students because I know their generation can do a lot better than mine; can engage the world more ethically; can lead a global society to a place of peace—a place that my generation has not been able to find.

I believe in my students because they engage me on a daily basis, they have earned my trust, and so I trust that they will move into the future with a sense of equality for all of humanity—despite the fact that they delight in sassing their teacher.