This weekend, as my husband and I were packing up boxes to move to the new house, I stumbled upon my “It’s Worth It!” box. Do you have one of these? Mine is just a shoe box. It’s falling apart, yet it is a personal belonging I deeply treasure. It contains the notes, letters, and cards that students and parents have written to me throughout my short 6 years as a teacher. We all have those letters – those special few that brought some tears to our eyes, a smile to our face, and a warmth in our heart. Those letters and notes that seem to whisper that what you do every day for students is worth it.
As I sat on my bedroom floor reading through all of the letters and notes I’ve stashed away, I started to remember my student teaching days. Do you remember those days? Do you remember how excited you were to step into a classroom? How about your very first year of teaching? I remember that I quite literally shed some tears after my principal left the room and I stood by myself in my very first classroom. I was so happy to be given the opportunity to do a job that I know God placed on my heart.
This year, I have more struggling, low students than usual. Last week during writing, I started to panic. What if they never get it? What if we never accomplish the goal of writing even one complete sentence? And then I read one of my kids’ journal entries. In his own inventive spelling, it read:
“In this class, we read so we can write better. We write so we can read better. If we can’t do it Mrs. Wagers says it’s okay if we try.”
It’s worth it. It is small moments like that which remind me why I do what I do every day. These moments are probably trivial moments to my students and parents – but they are a simple reminder that even on challenging days, what teachers do for kids matters.
Some days, teaching is just plain hard. It can wear you down, stress you out, and completely overwhelm you. But on days like that, remember the moments that make everything worth it. Every year, teachers seem to get more and more stress and pressure placed on them. With the change to CCSS and other state initiatives, this year is no exception. It’s not unusual to see teachers – good teachers – feeling defeated. Last week, a very dear friend of mine made the comment, “I’m not a good teacher.” I was sad to hear this because in truth, this teacher is fantastic. I cannot stress enough how much I have learned from this teacher and grown as an educator because of her. It made me realize the huge responsibility we have as colleagues that we are so guilty of forgetting – encouragement. confidence. praise. Such a little action can make a big difference in a teacher’s day. 🙂
As I packed up my “It’s Worth It” shoe box to take to the new house, I made a mental note to take on a challenge at school for the month of October. I am going to make sure I encourage at least two colleagues every week.
I’m also going to challenge you to do the same. 🙂
What you do every day for kids matters. Underneath the stress of paperwork, the pressure of test scores and achievement, the change in policies and legislation, you make a difference. Please remember that what you do is worth it.