Passing through a group of tall, strong kids from the basketball team in the crowded hall the other day I overheard one boy say to another, sadly, “I’m all up in my feelings right now.” A third boy put a hand on his friend’s back and replied, “Man, when are we NOT up in our feelings?”
So right, guys. When are we not?
Yesterday, one of my students was just sitting, staring ahead, not doing his work. I knelt down next to his desk and asked him what was going on. He asked if we could step into the hall. We did. And this big, stone-faced, senior opened his mouth and began telling me how he lost his backpack by leaving it in the bleachers after the Friday night basketball game, but before he could finish, he began to weep.
I #LoveTeaching because I love these kids: their incredible hearts, and the gift it is to be that adult who has the chance to know them, to hear them, to comfort and appreciate them; there is no higher honor than to be in their lives at this time, in this way. I’m up in my feelings, for sure--and not only about the kids, but about the grownups, too.
I #LoveTeaching because I love teachers--like my colleague, who is applying for a fellowship and needs two recommendation letters. This guy has a stellar reputation and relationships with lots of district leaders he could ask to write on his behalf, but told me he’s asking two current students because “kids don’t get enough chances to do authentic writing.” (He’s asking because of how it will make them feel to be asked and what they can learn from the work.) The hours my friend spent after school today with a crowd of kids, dethorning roses for the Valentine’s fundraiser, the teacher who comes to work with an unsolicited frozen lasagna for a colleague who just had a baby, my colleague who organized her whole classroom around creating a kind and welcoming haven for students who have nobody to sit with at lunch, the teachers who keep protein bars in their desks to hand nonchalantly to their hungry students, bring coats for the students who don’t have one, just giving and giving and giving.
I also #LoveTeaching because I love my subject, English, and the powerful words we read, write, and reflect on in class every day. I treasure the awesome and humbling privilege it is to be the person to introduce students to new words, new worlds, and the work of such inspirational authors as Toni Morrison, who said, "... remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” To that, I would add that if you have love, and feel love, then your job is to share that love with somebody else. As a teacher, I have the freedom and power to give my love a signal boost, amplify and spread it-- to open my heart to my students and my colleagues and be a model of listening, hearing, starting from positive assumptions, loving the world enough to show up to work every day ready for a fresh start. There’s no more difficult or rewarding job. It’s a joy to be all up in such powerful feelings, and I am so grateful to do this work every day.
I truly #LoveTeaching!
Leah Wilson, NBCT, has taught English, English as a Second Language, Philosophy, and Theory of Knowledge to students from grades 6 - 12 in England, The Bahamas, and several schools in the United States. She has served on the Standard Setting Panel and as a Content Validation Reviewer for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the International Baccalaureate Organization’s (IBO) Theory of Knowledge Curriculum Review Panel and as an IBO Examiner in Theory of Knowledge and English Literature. She’s also a fierce advocate for students and teachers and a proud union member who has represented her colleagues as the Chair of the MCEA High School Council on Teaching and Learning. She is currently the English Department Chair at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD.
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