Why I do what I do

Here is a riddle for you:

Work is always on her mind,
Her back is constantly aching,
Never stops moving,
Reinventing as the days goes on,
Improvising is her specialty,
Healing hearts and molding minds
Is all just a part of the job.

Who is she?

A teacher.

Today I woke up and laid in bed. I pressed snooze twice and continued to lay there. I pictured my students and their restlessness to get to winter break, their inability to sit still, their struggle to remember we don’t chew gum in school, etc. I thought of these things and staying in bed seemed much more inviting.

But I got out of bed, readied myself, and said a prayer. I drove to work early, prepped for the day ahead–of course never finishing the endless amount of prep work– and welcomed those little spirits into my classroom. The day went on with hurt feelings, struggles with sound/spelling patterns, whining, an aching back, etc.

It seemed the day would never end. But then something happened that warmed my heart.

It was the end of the day, only 45 minutes left. We had old assignments to finish up so they were all independently working. I called them up independently to go over last weeks spelling test and made eye contact with one of my quiet students. Her eyes were full of tears. I called her over and she was burning up with fever. By then it was 20 minutes left in the day. I had her get her coat and make a pillow where I was sitting and lay down. She instantly fell asleep.

The funny thing was that the children knew. Their voices lowered, they were kinder, they were concerned about each other. After a day of complaining and just struggling to be kind to each other they were all in tune with each other after all. All of my students were in charge of themselves– like I tell them to be 100 times a day. They were finishing their work, helping each other, and the harmony in the room was just brilliant.

Suddenly at the table I was sitting at, watching over a sleeping child, my table had children coming to sit by me to complete their work. I was confused why they chose to sit by me, but I just shrugged it off. Finally when my table was full of students I said “why are you sitting at my table? Do you need to be by your teacher?” To which one of them responded “Yes, you’re the best teacher.”

Well needless to say I had a moment where everything froze. I looked back at the sleeping child nearby who felt safe enough in my room to rest, and knew that I would protect her and so would her peers. I saw the full desk of students trying to comfort me. I saw all of my other students working quietly and smiling. They feel safe here. There is joy here. This is why I go to work each day, to provide a safety net from the troubling world.

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