Three friends scattered apart across the vast Delta region finally united this past weekend in Little Rock, AR, together for the first time since the end of Institute. (We missed you William and Charlie).
The weekend was wonderful, filled with exploring, laughing, and lots of catching up. Of course many of the conversations were about teaching and it was so nice to be able to relate exactly to one another and offer support and advice. I couldn’t think of two better people to have gone and seen “Waiting For Superman” with, which we did on Saturday night. The movie was powerfully emotional and moving. I was a wreck walking out of the theater. I’m usually not a big cryer, but something about this film struck a very deep chord in me and I have been trying to process it all since. I know I would not have nearly as strong of a reaction to the film if I wasn’t a teacher in a low-income school. I could not help but think of my own students the entire movie and I was hurting for them as I watched the reasons behind educational inequities unfold. The movie changed me as a teacher, and made me prouder than I ever have before to be one. One of the main points of the movie was the power of a good teacher. Here I sat in the dark thinking “I could be better…SO much better.” It’s not a new revelation, I have been clearly aware of my own performance since the beginning. I have always felt this way, as I’m sure many first year teachers have/do. What was rejuvenating for me was the inspiration this movie gave me to GET better. I feel like I have found a deeper motivation aside from just the day-to-day, make it to the weekend type of mindset. These kids have major catching up to do in math, so I have major moves to make. I’ve got to rock their world. I’ve got to go above and beyond. It is definitely not going to happen over night. It is not going to happen in a week. But what I can do is something small each day.
It’s so hard to work as much as we do and not see the fruits of our labor. The words “thank you” from a student are very seldom. It often feels like I’m serving a meal, and it keeps getting spit back in my face. Well, I’m just going to have to find better ingredients, including a pinch of persistence, and a splash of sense-of-possibility.
A lawyer winning a case and a doctor saving life are unquestionable and clear successes. An author writing a best-seller is a success. A factory worker meeting it’s quota is a success. A teacher cannot see this type of success as immediately and as definitely. We are making an unknown impact. I know deep down, what we are doing is big. It is valuable. It is making a difference. You don’t and won’t ever clearly see it, but you have to remember that our voices will always echo throughout our student’s lives, and the ripples we create in their hearts are endless.