She sighs as she places her pencil down.
Her eyes look up as if you’re her one saving grace. You notice the dimple in her left cheek and wonder if she sees her beauty yet, or if she is simply searching for something to love about herself.
They think we teach arithmetic and language arts, grade papers and administer tests. And yes, we do.
But in the way she pulls on your shirt, you know she is asking you if she’s worthy, while you’re busy helping another student find the volume of a rectangle.
She must learn to share. She must learn patience. She must learn to wait.
All of this is true, but instead, you let her hug you and play with your hair, because you remember what it’s like to be on the cusp of becoming a young woman. And though you aren’t sure why, you recognize that she so desperately needs loving arms today.
They think we teach the difference between a pronoun and a noun, an adjective and a verb. And yes, we do.
But you also listen to the NFL stats; not pretending to listen, but learning to actually care about the difference between the running back and tight end. Not only pretending to smile, but actually grinning from deep inside when your student, who tends to sit quietly in the corner, begins to ramble on about the Cowboys latest victory and is unable to contain his inside voice.
Embrace their voice.
Teaching, isn’t just teaching. It is learning the story within each soul that walks through your classroom door, and reminding them that they aren’t just a story.
Teaching is creating a space where a child feels free to be who God created them to be, not what society tells them they are. We give the gift of a space without limitations and regulations that long to keep them inside a box of ideals—a box that doesn’t exist.
They must learn patience, discipline and how to share. But when we have multiple pairs of little hands pulling at our shirt, wanting to tell us their story, we must listen.
For when we acknowledge their words, they learn their soul. When they learn their soul, they hold the world.
Today, we are guilty of dwelling on the excessive paperwork and expectations, the low pay and difference between our philosophy and that of our co-worker. We lose sight of our kids, of our hearts, because we are bombarded with policy.
But if we shift our perspective and open our souls, we see the reality. And the reality is this:
We should be humbled, honored and completely consumed with gratitude. For we are blessed by little hands, little eyes and big hearts—all day, every day. What other profession offers this?
So when my student rambles on about his birthday spent at the park this past Sunday, filled with chocolate cake and water balloon fights, and I have a million different tasks that must be done before 3 PM, I make sure to listen. I ask questions, smile and stay engaged.
And I thank them all for giving me the gift of trusting me with their story. What more could I really want?
Author: Emily Gordon
Editor: Nicole Cameron