Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 15: Name three strengths you have as an educator.

Let's be honest. Teachers are rarely the kind to talk about how great they are. I've been writing, thinking, mulling over, and revising this post for almost two weeks now. It is not because I am having trouble narrowing down a long list of pats-on-the-back down to three. I have found different ways of identifying strengths while at the same time explaining why those qualities are also weaknesses. Needless to say, this prompt has made me very uncomfortable.

And then last week, tragedy struck both at school and in my family. 

I won't go into the detail about the horrific crime that was committed against a family who resides in the school district I work in. (You can read about it here.)  What I will say is that it demonstrated what kind of true strength educators show when dealing with a crisis such as this. Teachers at the elementary school that the young brothers attended surrounded their students with love and support. Going so far as to ride the school bus home and to school to make them feel safe. Social workers and counselors from around the district went to the school to ensure that staff and students had the ability to navigate these waters that no community thinks they will have to enter. The strength of my colleagues, while not surprising, was inspiring. I know that it is our strength as educators that will see us through this very sad chapter in our lives. It is our strength that will allow us to care for our students, to listen to them, and find a way to continue on learning and working together.

During this horrific week at school, my family was dealing with a terrible loss. My husband's uncle had recently gotten engaged to his girlfriend, whom the family loved very much. Tragically, she was taken too soon in a bicycle accident. My husband and I traveled to Massachusetts to be with family and mourn the loss of Pam.  The funeral was heartbreaking as person after person got up to speak to the wonderful woman they had loved. I learned that Pam was also a teacher working with students learning English. As I sat there and listened to the stories that spoke to Pam's character and strength, I couldn't help but think that the qualities her family loved her for were ones that demonstrates the strengths of an educator. And as each of her loved ones spoke they echoed the qualities that Pam will always be remembered for: her sense of humor, her kindness, and her ability to let the people she cared for know that she loved them.

 I thought, what three better strengths for an educator to possess? 

Humor, kindness and love should come before any curriculum. Any test. They are the things that bond us not just as teachers and students but as human beings. It was what was seeing my own colleagues through the grief of the past week. It speaks to the humanity of our profession and what our true duty and calling is all about.  I can only hope that my students view these three qualities as strengths in me.  I try hard every day to incorporate them into the work that we do together.

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