Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Don't Ever

 "You were born with the ability to change someone's life.  Don't ever waste it."

The words shout across the classroom to me.  I've been teaching for 35 years now and I'm quite the opportunities I have to change someone's life.  They are a regular part of the majority of my waking hours 180 days out of the year...minimum.  Every minute in my classroom is an opportunity to effect change.  Genuine, gut-wrenching, simple, subtle, silent, achingly slow change.  Being a teacher gives me all that and more.

I didn't know that at the beginning.  I was not prepared for the tidal wave of realization in the first week of my first teaching job.  It came on me suddenly, quickly, and overwhelmed me, causing my own flood of tears at the peak of the epiphany.  I thought it was too hard and too much.  I thought it was impossibly to carry that responsibility.  I thought I was too young, too small, too naive, too shy, too everything...  I very quickly realized that a)  I couldn't be everything to everyone, that b) I had to make the most of every opportunity, and that c) it mattered how I went about making the most of those opportunities.

I have since thought about those first few weeks of my first job and have wondered why I felt so unprepared for the emotional onslaught of this discovery.  Why had my education teachers never talked about that part?  Maybe it's the part we all have to figure out for ourselves in our own way.  Certainly there is no right way or one way to do it.  There is no formula for changing a life, although there are consequences for closing your eyes to the opportunities.  Perhaps the other quote on today's bell work slide is the answer:  "I'm in love with the possibility of changing the world.  They tell me I'm crazy.  They don't know my God."  On second thought, that is the answer.  The only answer for me...

Photos taken at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, Arizona

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