Teaching Is Believing

Michaela - Omaha, Nebraska
Entered on May 1, 2008

I am about to retire after 34 years of teaching. I have been thinking a lot about what I am leaving behind when I close these doors. That got me to thinking about the moment when I open the doors every morning.

As I sit here the last weeks of the school year, my last full-time school year, I think about the morning greetings. The student who comes in with a hug and a smile every day. The one who slouches in ,munching hot Cheetos and barely talking. The one I have to drag in from the hall. The one who has her book open, doing homework at the last minute.

How many mornings over 34 years? Me facing a new day with problems and joys I don’t even know about yet. I brace myself and open the door. Here they come. That’s the moment every day when I know what I believe.

I believe that I am crucial to them and they are crucial to me. I believe my smile and question can take them from tension to relief. I believe their running in at the last minute to finish my homework before class starts is a compliment. I believe their coming to school after working until 2:00 in the morning is something for me to admire and think about next time I say I’m exhausted. I believe my teaching can encourage or discourage, and most mornings I’m primed to get this day off to the right start. I believe their curiosity can bring joy to both of us, and I believe my heart and attention will be pulled in many different directions this day like any other.

I am a teacher. I believe in my students because they have taught me what believing means.