I might have already said that I’m not sure – at all – that I was supposed to teach. There were years of prepping and encouragement from friends and family. A lot of Oh, you’ll be GREAT!! But I have serious doubts it was truly my “calling” if you believe in such a thing about vocation. (I have a few thoughts on that if you’re interested.)
Anyway, I think I became an educator simply because it was expected of me. From the time I entered the music ed. program at the University of Illinois until I walked away a few years ago, I was destined for the classroom. Resulting in a remarkable display of weakness or mismatch.
Not that I think for a moment those years were wasted. Not at all. Not that I didn’t have a few successes here and there. Now and again. Some days were beautiful in “flow” – just moving with my students as if we were working as one, in the same direction, helping not competing, common goals. Common good.
But most of the time I was running as fast as I could just to survive day by day.
During those low times, though, when I felt so inadequate and small, my devoted Tim would bring me back to one truth: each year there was at least one student with whom I made a truly strong connection. A student whose tolerance for school improved because I was there every day. Or who kept going because I was was on her side or in his corner.
Some students kept it on the lowdown that I made their days better. Maybe they kept their distance, making sure they remained in charge. But they knew I would protect their safe place. They knew I was completely for them.
By Halloween, it was usually evident which student was my light for the year. My ray of sunshine through whom I could see purpose and hope. That kept me coming back, even when my lesson plans were puny or I was quite sure anybody could do a better job than me.
The first one was Jason. I met him the year I was the most woefully unprepared. My first year teaching. My first self-perceived disaster.
And then, for the next eleven, I saw the light in
Jamie – 2 years
Brothers Rodrigo and Miguel
Diego (the biggest surprise of all)
and James – who did the worm across the Honor’s Day stage
Those sweet young souls, in all their innocence, let the light peek through just often enough that I could keep a smidge of balance during the years I was a misfit in my own room.
I saw the light in them. I wish I could let them know just how much it meant.