The idea for this post has been on my heart for sometime but today, the day Pope Francis is in the United States for his first visit, pushed me to sit down to write this even though I did not post it for many months later.
I have always admired the job that teachers do but I have never been a teacher. I only visit classrooms. I do not live there. But what I see in those moments when I walk into a classroom is often something special. It is something magical.
While the classrooms are often filled with outdated school desks, and the walls covered in plain, neutral, nothing special oatmeal colored walls, it’s what a teacher adds to her room and to her students’ lives that brings the magic into the room. It is through the questions, and introductions to cool topics like crystal formation, and the solar system, and it is reading books that bring new worlds to their little ears and widen their eyes to all at can be and all that exists inside of the cover of a book in the words written.
Its the passion he brings to the lessons, and the excitement he brings to his class each and every day. His role in bringing up and helping to shape such little minds may seem ordinary, but how each student and his teacher interact, and what is discussed in class have the potential to make an impression for a life time, to change the course of that child’s life.
“Truly any adult that has the opportunity to interact with a child has this special opportunity. Don’t minimize or underestimate the impact you have on the children you work with. Do not forget the important work you do. May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope?” — Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, #278.
“Teaching is a beautiful job; as it allows you to see the growth day by day of people entrusted to your care. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility.” – Pope Francis
I think being a teacher gives you a special opportunity to watch each child grow- not only in their academic or athletic ability but in those areas that are even more important- do they respect their teammates and adults? Are they a good class or team mate? Do they listen well? Are they a responsible and good classroom or team citizen? Are they compassionate, kind, and respectful to their classmates? Do they work well with their team members?
Those teachers that are called to teach, its in their heart and they find their purpose in those classrooms with the tiny chairs and desks that house little minds and big hearts. Those teachers have a special part to play in each of their students lives. For some students, a teacher will give them a little extra push, a needed hug or reassurance, help them to master a topic they are struggling with, or give them the confidence to see just how special and capable they are.
While it is by no means the teacher’s job to be a parent to their students’, for some kids their teacher may be a rare voice in their day that encourages them, or has a moment to listen to their concerns. Life is hard and for some kids, life outside of school is plagued with hunger, a parent working several jobs, a difficult home life or other stressful situations. Its often their teacher that is the constant in their life for the good part of a year.
We’ve all had those special coaches or teachers who made a big impact on us. The ones that got us excited to read, or showed us we were capable of more. The ones who pushed us, and those who knew we could do it, the ones who saw our potential even when it felt no one else did. When we cross paths and have the privilege of working with a teacher like this we later understand just how special those teachers are. We understand that to those teachers walking into the school in the morning, and turning on the lights to their classroom and straightening the desks before the first students arrive, for those teachers- teaching is not a job it is a calling.
It is not just a room with four walls and a door. No to those teachers it is a magical place that can change ideas, and words and topics into fascination, wonderment, and passion within those walls. If they are lucky, those kids will leave their rooms with an enthusiasm that is contagious – those kids will leave that class with curiosity to explore even more.
To all of those teachers that taught me and teach my children, especially to those of you that have a special way about you. Thank you. And to all the teachers in our family, like my mother-in-law who taught for 30 years, and my sister and brother-in-law who teach high school and college students. Thank you to all of you that put in long days, some how handle a classroom of 20-30, often times rambutous, and excitable children who all have different abilities, and challenges- thank you for doing work that matters-every single day. Your impact is great even if you do not always get to see how.