Comparing my profession to finding the right pair of running shoes is fraught with all kinds of potential inaccuracies and legitimate criticisms, but the fact remains that education is in trouble because we aren’t listening to the experts, we aren’t helping teachers find the right fit, and we aren’t spending the money where we need to spend it and providing the resources necessary to do the most effective work. And the refusal to do so is pushing teachers out of the classroom at an unsustainable rate and leaving children without education experts with the knowledge and skills to teach them at every level.
Yes, Seniors, the last year has brought you unexpected challenges during a time when you are figuring out who you are and what you want your future to look like. You are heading out into a world that has changed, but the trajectory of that change is not out of your hands. I have seen what you are capable of. I have seen your compassion and concern for others. I have seen your creativity and desire for a better future. I have seen your passion and I’ve watched you march for change.
For us, success means that our kids are happy, healthy, and that they are doing something that they love. I want them to be world changers. I want them do see success as offering something back to those around them instead of just taking every opportunity that is offered to them, regardless of the cost.
This August, I will put on a mask and pack a personal bottle of hand sanitizer in my teacher bag next to my favorite grading pens. I will come back to the classroom because it is the most important space where I can make a difference. I will return as a teacher every fall for the foreseeable future because of the challenge, not in spite of it. Books will be loved by the right reader without my tutelage, but I will not be the same without the opportunity to teach.
COVID-19 didn’t break us, it showed us what was broken. We were so busy pretending that everything was ok and that we loved the rat race that we didn’t stop to consider what it was doing to our bodies and souls. And then everything stopped and suddenly we had to slow down and face the boredom that we’ve desperately avoided our entire lives.
Reading opens up our world and helps reinforce the idea that we don’t know it all, and that it’s ok that we don’t know everything. When we read a variety of perspectives or books that challenge long-held ideas and force us to defend or even adjust our world-view, we grow as individuals and as citizens. We learn that answers are not easy and the world is complicated and even the smartest people don’t have all of the answers and sometimes get it wrong.