So aside from writing I am a teacher, and I teach because, quite simply … it inspires. When you’re an educator you have the amazing privilege to see the future … to know that it will be bright because you see who’s in it. Today, in a prep meeting, our administrators asked us to write a letter to our students explaining our, “Why?” I am sharing mine with you both to show you a side of myself I rarely speak of, and also to prompt you to pray for the educators who are around the world being asked to do something very hard that they’ve never done before. Whether in person, masked, and six feet apart, or digitally and even farther … teachers are trying to prepare, engage, and love on kids without their usual modes of communication. We teachers are huggers. We are high fivers. We laugh and we joke and we cry with our kiddos. We are relational, conversational, of-course-I’ll-explain-it-again, and sure I’ll walk with you at recess kinds of beings who are now forced into separation. While I know safety is everything, please pray with me and for us that our hearts and minds creatively: heal the gaps, make the connections, and continue to champion the future leaders of this world.
My Dearest Students:
When I was eleven, my parents moved me from one school to another in the middle of my sixth grade year. I was nervous and awkward. I had terrible bangs, huge glasses, and a smile full of braces. As I navigated the uncomfortable transition, there would have been no way that I could have known at the time what an astounding blessing that decision to switch schools was for me – because that same year I met my two best friends and they are STILL, more than twenty years later, my best friends today.
When you are “stuck in the middle” sometimes people look down on you … they equate middle school to be the leftovers of childhood … but I disagree. Did you know that your age is the first time you are able to metacognate? HUGE word, but it means, “thinking about thinking.” What an amazing new superpower, to not only hear what you’re told and commit it to memory, but think about it … feel about it. I always tell my students that it is not my job to teach you what to think, it is my job to teach you HOW to think, and my darlings, no matter how you come into this year with me, you will leave it more confident, articulate, and most importantly, loved. I love you … already, because you were chosen to be mine, and together we are going to find a way to make this year something spectacularly and singularly yours.
When I was a Freshman in high school, my history teacher had a quote on the board from the philosopher Spinoza that said, “Whenever I have confronted that which was unfamiliar to me, I sought neither to praise, nor to condemn, but only to understand.” It’s kind of heavy, but what it means is … I want to be open minded and open hearted. A lot of people think I’m crazy when I say I teach middle school, and maybe they’re a little bit right, but a brilliant man named Oscar Levant once said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.” So it will be a crazy year my friends, but if you open yourself to the possibility, it just might also be genius.
All my love,