A Facebook post from the past (I actually forgot I sent this); and thank you so much for this reminder, my very Nice-Niece Anna Maria,
Anna Maria Ingraham:
“I come from a family of educators (teachers, professors, and superintendents). Found this gem in my FB memories from 3 years ago. For all of my fellow teachers as we enter our first weeks of school…”
“Anna, I always have this strange idea whenever I see any person doing something great. I imagine that behind, under and over stands a series of great teachers. Most people cannot fully appreciate the tremendous sense of reverence, responsibility and respect that one feels when facing a group of young people for whom your efforts can positively change the trajectory of their lives for good, and forever. We can’t even share with them our doubts and fears about our ability to perform this great work. A first-year teacher recently expressed to me her fears of not doing a “good job,” I told her: “two things, first that feeling is a great and normal feeling when your work involves transforming the world for the better through people. Second, guess what, get prepared, for that feeling will never leave as long as you do this work. The humility of a calling is the asking: “why send me, after all my shortcomings are….…” And here enters faith that serves as a great motivator and shield when the conditions of the world seem to be so much against our capacity to succeed. Both teaching and faith require courage, neither in my view are “rational choices” in this world; however, for many they are the best rational choices in a world that in the name of rationality disregards’ the majority of its children. Too many of our young people come to school every day in defiance of obstacles and challenges that would destroy those who were born with every support structure in place for their: “I made it alone success story” . I was motivated as a principal to stand at the door and thank students for just coming to school, on that day. I knew that for many of them, it was a daily struggle to clear all the obstacles either at home or in the streets to get to school, on that day. It may not have been their intention, but their presence ignited and sustained my faith.
For you, and all teachers have a great year!
Uncle Michael A. Johnson”
I was so honored to hear that one school administrator is utilizing my letter to my niece in his opening staff conference meeting; the work of a professional educator is so hard and draining (as it should be!) That professional educators need as many encouraging words, from as many people as possible (have you contacted a former teacher or school administrator and thanked them?) Even from an Uncle’s letter to his wonderful teacher niece!
And, I also learn something from re-reading this post; at times we educators need to read and reflect on our own words, for our own self-generated inspiration. It is more often than not, a profession where you must be your own best cheerleader to survive sane. The great hypocrisy, the great contradiction, and the great shame of our nation is to watch those who would denigrate, degrade and dismiss the work of teachers; while speaking, writing and employing the very skills gifted to them by teachers…
*“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”