Things I said:
“i don’t know how to engage in growing professionally right now because my heart is just so wrapped in these students and i’m tired and empty.”
“i’m struggling to care about how much better i can teach math when i don’t even know how to help students become kind or compassionate”
“i don’t know how to ‘teach’ the things that (ultimately) matter more than math. and i don’t feel brave or smart or strong enough to have the tough conversations, or be any kind of role model. and that just exhausts me.”
“or maybe i can’t have them *because* i’m exhausted. either way, ready not to spend all day/every day being LOOKED at and TALKING.”
“this concludes the ‘rachel whines’ portion of the show. sorry. i just… wonder how all of you teachers do it. i’m so faking it right now.”
Things you said back to me:
“Part of ‘growing professionally’ is learning how to support & take strength from those relationships, but still thrive and grow.”
“you’re brave when you do things anyway even though they’re hard or scary or you really don’t feel like it.”
“You can’t be brave unless you’re scared”
“Your brand of ‘faking it’ involves acting w/ strength that you don’t always feel and giving support form a heart that’s unsettled. These are acceptable. Unacceptable forms of ‘faking it’ include pretending that the math grade REALLY IS the important thing.”
I know that the school year is a journey, and that we – teachers and students – are a community of people ALL trying to grow. I know that we stumble – we make mistakes, we hit roadblocks. I know that growth is not always going to be easy and we are prone to exhaustion or isolation or loss of motivation. I have sought support and tried to provide it to others. I hope, wish, pray that I am doing my part to create a safe place for those around me to learn about what it means to be human in this terrifyingly beautiful and fragile universe we inhabit.
We are sculptors of hearts and minds. That is a huge responsibility. We all have to be brave.