Why I Am Thankful For My Depression

Depression sucks. Since I was diagnosed over 10 years ago (which, by the way, what!? 10 years!?), my depression has been a source of pain and confusion in my life. It has harmed my relationships, impeded my professional life, and at times caused me to doubt my salvation. At its mildest, it will knock me off kilter for a couple of days. At its worst, it will make getting out of bed feel like climbing Mount Everest.

Even with all of that, I found myself in my classroom yesterday thanking God for my depression.

Yesterday I had one of those classes that reminds me why I teach. My job is hard, and no one in their right mind teaches for the money. We do it for the lightbulb moments, for the chance to share the things we love with others. And more and more, I do it because teenagers are human beings with rich internal lives, and it’s important to me that they have an adult who recognizes that fact.

My biggest goal for my students is that they will be people who have empathy. I approach everything we read as an opportunity to put ourselves in someone else’s place, to look at things from a different perspective. I ask them to relate not only to characters who are similar to them, but to characters who are vastly different. And we often find that the characters who seem to be lightyears away from us are actually more like us than we think.

This week my 10th graders began reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It is a difficult book that has a lot of tough scenes and confronts a lot of difficult issues, but is also a favorite among my students. In just the fifth chapter, a character commits suicide in a particularly devastating way. Because I know it is a hard chapter to read, I always give my students a warning before they read it that it could be emotional for them and the first thing we do the next day is spend time journalling our thoughts so that they have a place to process what they’re feeling.

Yesterday in one class, that journalling led to open weeping from a number of students. This is my third year teaching these particular students, and they know that my classroom is a safe place for this kind of thing (which is quite honestly probably the achievement I am most proud of in my life – no joke). We talked about how we saw reflections of ourselves in the character that committed suicide and in that character’s family members and even in the character who is a bit of a villain at this point in the story. We talked about how life is hard and how we wish that we could step outside and see ourselves as characters in a book and know that the story was going somewhere. We talked about how that character was in a situation where she could not ask for help, and how grateful we are that we can ask for help. We talked about how asking for help is strength, not weakness.

We didn’t write a paragraph about how Hosseini’s use of third person limited point of view affects the reader like we were supposed to. We cried and talked and wrestled with our feelings, and then we watched a video of ducks sliding down a waterslide to cheer ourselves up before heading off into the rest of the day.

A lot of people would probably consider me to be too “soft” on my students. They may think that I spend too much time talking about fluff and not enough time on analytical skills or grammar rules. They may think that I am too open about my personal life and that I shouldn’t bring up my own struggles with depression in the classroom. Well, I have never once regretted being open with my students about that. If my oversharing can give me the opportunity to speak into the lives of students who are hurting, I will accept any negative consequences that come with it.

I looked at my students crying together and comforting each other and wrestling with these difficult things and I was filled with both joy and heartache. Joy at seeing the way they love each other and for the opportunity to love them myself; heartache that they even have to feel this pain in the first place.

The students that I get to interact with every day are the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. They work so much harder than I ever did as a student and complain about it much less. They look at the world around them and see the challenges that they are going to face and rather than becoming cynical and giving up, they are trying to think of ways to make it better. And it kills me that this world and our culture and other adults in their lives make them feel like they are not good enough, like they are ridiculous, like they do not have the right to feel the things that they feel.

If I can do nothing else, I want my students to leave my classroom knowing without a doubt that every single person on the face of this planet is a valuable human being, no matter what. Race, religion, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, education – none of that has any bearing on a human being’s intrinsic value. If I can teach them that, I honestly don’t care if they can correctly use a semicolon.

Why I Am Sad

It seems a bit silly, really. It’s not like I knew Robin Williams. I wouldn’t even have really labelled myself a fan; not the way I consider myself of a fan of other actors and entertainers. And yet he was such a part of my landscape growing up and I find myself unexpectedly saddened by his passing tonight.

I don’t know how many times my sister and I watched Hook. I think I actually gave it to her on DVD for Christmas or something just a couple of years ago. That movie taught me that growing up didn’t have to mean abandoning fun.

Aladdin, like the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast before it and the Lion King after it, was one of my favorites. It’s still fun to watch because as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more and more of the Genie’s references and impressions so it always feels like there’s something new.

There are three movies I will always associate with my time in youth group – Braveheart, Shawshank Redemption, and Dead Poets Society. We were shown so many clips from those three, but I still love Dead Poets Society just as much now as I did then. As unrealistic as any movie about teachers is, I still hope to be at least a little bit like Mr. Keating.

What can I even say about Good Will Hunting? Just thinking about the scene where Sean tells Will over and over and over that it’s not his fault can make me tear up.

There’s another Robin Williams movie that few people seem to talk about (probably for good reason) but that has always stuck in my mind: Patch Adams. I remember feeling blindsided by the less-than-happy ending. As far as I can remember, that movie was my first experience with seeing a character I loved die unexpectedly. I’m sure if I watched it now I would see it coming, but in the moment I remember feeling gutted.

When I think about Robin Williams, it is not the hilarity that I remember (although he was certainly hilarious). Rather, I remember the poignancy. When you look at his body of work, there is so often a layer of sadness or tragedy threaded through the jokes and laughter. He knew the world was not a happy place and so he sought to brighten it a little for the rest of us.

Today I stood in front of my students and told them that I teach English because I believe that reading and writing are important. And while reading and writing are necessary skills for college success and employment opportunities, they are important for something much bigger. Stories matter. When we read (or watch) other people’s stories, we walk a mile in their shoes. When we write our stories, we amplify our own voices. Stories have power and I want my students to have the ability to both understand them and create them.

Robin Williams will not get to tell the rest of his story. I have seen so many comments online wondering how someone so full of joy and life could have suffered from depression. I have also already seen comments online saying he should have fought harder against his addictions, fought harder against his depression, faced up to his weaknesses and “moved on”. It breaks my heart because that is not how depression works. And I fear that his story will be twisted into something it was not.

Robin Williams was a storyteller. He taught us to laugh at ourselves. He taught us to never stop having fun. He taught us to seize the day. He taught us to FEEL – pain, delight, sorrow, joy, heartbreak, love, etc. His work may seem silly or frivolous or superfluous; it may seem unimportant in light of all the tragedy that surrounds us every day. But it’s not.

Telling stories is never unimportant. And I will miss his stories.

Why I Want Birthday Presents

I have a really awesome classroom library. Back when I worked at Kingsbury, I had a Donors Choose project funded which provided me with about $400 worth of books. Since then I have built up my collection to the point where I had to buy another 6-foot bookshelf for my classroom to hold them all. Some of these books have been donated (thanks Mom!), but a lot of them are just because I have a serious inability to walk into a bookstore and not buy something.

Last year when I started living on my own, that was one of the extra splurges that had to go. I still had plenty of books though, so it wasn’t really a problem. By the end of the year, though, a lot of books had wandered off my shelves and not come back. This happens, of course, but since I wasn’t replenishing throughout the year as much, I now have a lot of gaps.

I also really want to increase the amount of diversity I have on my shelves. Most of what I have came from me wandering around bookstores picking up things that looked interesting to me. But there’s a lot of great stuff out there that either isn’t on the shelf at my bookstore or that doesn’t necessarily catch my eye at first glance. I want to purposeful about making sure my students have a wide variety books that feature characters who look like them.

Finally, I will be teaching my 10th graders for the third year in a row and I have some voracious readers in that class. Some of them have read pretty much every book on my shelf that is even remotely interesting to them. They are mainly the ones I am thinking of when I feel the need to restock.

So what does this have to do with birthday presents? Well, my birthday is coming up on August 9th and I’ve put together an Amazon wish list of books that I’d love to have in my classroom. I pulled this list from best seller lists, my own knowledge of what my kids like, and recommendation lists from the Diversity in YA website. If you feel so inclined, click on over and peruse the list. If you see something that strikes your fancy, buy me a birthday present!

It’s for the kids! Children are the future! Insert other inspirational cliche here! :)

 

Why I Love Social Media

On any given day, you can find multiple articles decrying the way the modern American uses technology and social media. It has made us narcissists. It has destroyed our conversation skills. It is turning people into zombies. It is causing people to be depressed because they are comparing their lives too much. It has ruined our attention spans. We have all this information at our fingertips, and we use it to post pictures of brunch and watch videos of cats. And on and on and on.

And sure, social media and technology may be factors that contribute to some of the ills in our society. But ultimately, they are tools. And tools are never inherently good or inherently evil. A hammer can be used to create or to destroy. It is up to people using the tools to use them well.

Since there was such a thing as “social media,” I have been a part of it. In high school, most of my friends were from church and not from school, so I spent afternoons on AOL instant messenger talking to them (and vastly improving my typing speed). Senior year of high school I created a livejournal which gave me a safe place to process my emotions and deal with my depression diagnosis. During my freshman year in college, Facebook was just getting started and I was one of the first people at UNT to join. It allowed me to keep in touch with friends who had gone to other schools in a time that was very lonely and very difficult for me.

Did I sometimes use AIM as a way to avoid homework? Sure. Did it make me less able to talk to my friends face-to-face? No. The conversation just continued from wherever it left off. Did I use Facebook to procrastinate in college? Absolutely. Did it destroy my ability to engage in my classes and complete my work? No.

Last night, a young woman posted what read as a suicide note on her Tumblr. People who follow her, but have never met her, reached out to their own followers to see if there was anyone who knew her in real life and could check in on her. Complete strangers from all over the world sent her encouraging messages and started following her blog. This morning, she posted that those messages and encouragements had literally saved her life. Simple words on a screen were enough to make her pause and rethink her decision. They gave her the strength to fight her depression for one more minute, one more hour, one more day.

I’m sure there are cynics out there who will say that she was just looking for attention. And you can believe that, if you want. But I know what it feels like to gain comfort from the kind words of strangers. For those of us who struggle with in-person social interactions, who keenly feel the weight of unspoken expectations that go along with those interactions, who feel like we don’t always quite fit in with the people around us in “real life”, social media can provide a safe place full of like-minded people. 

Social media has enabled me to keep in touch with friends in a way that would never have been possible before. It has exposed me to new ideas that I never would have considered. It has challenged me to learn and grow in difficult and surprising ways. It has introduced me to new types of media and new sources of entertainment that have enriched my life. It has allowed me to connect with more fantastic people than I ever could have imagined without it.

Social media is a tool. Use it to interact with people who encourage you, who challenge you, who teach you, who show you kindness, who speak truth to you, who give life. Use it to encourage others, to challenge others, to teach others, to show kindness to others, to speak truth to others, to give life.

And maybe occasionally to Instagram a picture of your pet or your lunch. Because, hey, who doesn’t love a cute cat picture every now and then? 

Why You Should Go See Belle

So, I just got home from seeing Belle, and Y’ALL. I am completely unable to put into words my feelings about this movie. It is beautiful and gut-wrenching and inspiring and important. It made me laugh and groan and cringe and cry and was just completely overwhelming. There is this one particular moment that just completely floored me and made me want to jump out of my seat and scream, “Yes! This! This is why media is important! This is why representation is important!”

In addition to being just a wonderfully moving story, Belle is also a movie I greatly want to see gain commercial success because it would defy the current Hollywood narrative. Hollywood studios and production companies continue to insist that the reason there are a disproportionate amount of movies starring, written by, and directed by white men is because that is what people want. They insist that movies starring, written by, and directed by women and people of color and particularly women of color will not appeal to a broad audience and will therefore not make money.

Well, Belle is exactly the kind of movie that can prove that notion wrong. It has a black female star (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), was written by a black female (Misan Sagay), and was directed by a black female (Amma Asante). And guess what? It’s beautifully acted, written, and directed. Did you like Pride & PrejudiceAmazing Grace? Do you like beautiful sets? And beautiful costumes? And brilliant acting? Then you will like this film. There is absolutely no reason it should not be successful.

So I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. Are you somebody who usually waits until a movie comes to Redbox or Netflix? Do you normally just download movies from the internet? Are you just not sure you want to see this particular movie? I will buy you a ticket.

I am completely serious. I will buy anyone who wants 1-2 tickets to go see Belle at the theater and time of your choice, up to 10 tickets total (I’m not made of money…I have to cut it off somewhere). It’s first come, first serve – just comment and let me know when and where to buy the ticket and make sure I have your email address so I can send you the tickets. All I ask in return is that after you see it and love it (because I know you will), you spread the word and convince more people to go see it.

 

Why Being Single is Really Hard Sometimes

For the 27+ years that I have been on the planet, I have been single. This has not been entirely by choice, but over the past 5 years I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with it. Most of the time I actually enjoy it. There are a lot of perks to being single – I always get to pick the restaurant, I can go see whichever movie I want, and I never have to share the remote. I’ve really come to appreciate the level of freedom and independence that comes with being a single adult, and I’d like to think I’m not all that bad at it.

But then sometimes things will happen that remind me of how nice it would be to have a partner in all of this.

Like when I work an 80 hour week and still have to take care of the dog and make my own dinner.

Or when I finally get a long weekend after some very busy weeks, and then realize that I need to buy groceries and do laundry and run errands.

Or when I treat myself to Starbucks, but it doesn’t have quite the same feel as I imagine having someone hand me a fresh cup of coffee on an early morning would.

Or when I have to take my car into the shop for the 4th time in two months and so I can’t make it to the gym because I don’t have a ride. And even though they assured me I wasn’t wasting money, I realize I’ve now spent almost $2000 to fix a car with an estimated trade-in value of $750. And I can’t help but wonder if maybe it would be different if it had been my husband taking the car in.

Or when I realize I’m going to need to buy a new car soon, but I have no idea how to do that and no one to help me make the decision because as much as my friends can give me advice, ultimately the decision comes down to me.

It is when I am faced with those types of decisions that I feel the weight of singleness. I have no problem making the fun decisions on my own – where to eat, what to watch, how to spend a Saturday evening, etc. But when those weightier decisions come along, the ones that involve more money or greater consequences, I sometimes wish I had someone alongside me to help share the responsibility.

I’m not completely naive; I know that relationships come with their own set of difficulties and obstacles. But I also imagine that it must be nice to know that when trouble comes, you have someone there to watch your back.

Frozen, Rebellion and the Gospel

So, Disney accidentally made a movie about the gospel. Which is awesome.

(This post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.)

A lot has been said about Frozen, both positive and negative. It’s about two sisters, which is fantastic!  It hangs a lampshade on the ridiculousness of marrying someone you just met, which is also fantastic (and funny)! And yes, it is problematic that there are no people of color. And it’s a bit weird that the sisters have essentially the exact same facial features and bear a striking resemblance to Rapunzel and apparently that’s because it’s hard to draw women with emotion, but hey, nothing’s perfect. 

Most of the conversation around the movie seems to be centered around the song “Let it Go,” which is a fantastic song and is exquisitely performed by Idina Menzel (aka Elphaba from Wicked, aka Maureen from Rent, aka the woman whose voice I would kill to have). It’s become this huge phenomenon, this anthem of embracing yourself and throwing off the shackles of expectation. I’ve seen a lot of talk on the internet about how much people relate to the song and how great it is to see Elsa stop concealing her true nature and becoming who she was meant to be, with quite a bit of sass thrown in for good measure. She is rebelling against the rules and restrictions that have been placed on her for so many years, both by herself and the society around her. Obviously, this is a message that resonates with people, particularly those who feel marginalized by society for whatever reason.

What no one seems to be talking about is how her rebellion does not solve ANY of Elsa’s problems. She embraces her power and builds herself a super awesome ice palace – but nothing else changes. She is still lonely. She is still isolated. She is still afraid (the scene where Anna comes to the ice palace really illustrates just how afraid she still is). And she is still causing incredible amounts of damage to the people around her. Letting it go completely is just as harmful as keeping it all shoved in inside, even if she insists that the cold doesn’t bother her.

So what does solve Elsa’s problems? What enables her to use her gifts for good? What reconciles her with her community? What allows her to experience joy and companionship and fulfillment? Love. Specifically, relentless, unconditional, sacrificial love. Sound familiar?

Let’s look at Anna and the love she has for her sister.

  1. It is relentless. In “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Anna continues to come and knock on Elsa’s door, even though she is continually turned away. Even though Elsa is hiding, Anna desires a relationship with her and does everything she can to build one.
  2. It is unconditional. After Elsa’s powers are revealed and everyone begins to fear her, Anna continues to love her. She says she knows her sister and that her sister is not a monster. She sees her sister for who she is and loves her all the more. She continues to pursue her sister, even as Elsa tries to run away.
  3. It is sacrificial. When Hans threatens Elsa during the climax of the movie, Anna steps in and lays down her own life for her sister in what even Disney considers an act of true love.

Even more than that, it is Anna’s resurrection that shows Elsa what love really is. It is only once her sister revives that she learns how to release Arendelle from the winter she has caused – through love.

When the king and queen took Anna and Elsa to the trolls at the beginning of the movie, the troll king warned them that fear would be her enemy. They tried to defend against fear with control, which only made things worse. Completely letting go of control didn’t make anything better either. But through Anna’s sacrifice, Elsa learns the truth – that perfect love casts out fear. Once she learns this, she can use her powers for good. She brings joy to the community, she is reunited with her sister, and she is both controlled and at peace.

I don’t think for a second that Disney intended to make a movie about the gospel. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t. And honestly, that’s one of the things that reassures me when I find myself doubting whether the gospel is really true – it is a story that is so ingrained within the hearts of humanity that it spills out everywhere. No matter where you look, you will find stories of this kind of love, of love that is so relentless, so unconditional, so sacrificial that it has the power to change people’s hearts. We all want that; we just have to remember that these echoes and imitations that are all around us should point us to the original source, Jesus.

Why I Am A Follower

Last week I was having a conversation with my principal and she told me that I was a leader in our school. The comment surprised me because I don’t really think of myself that way. I have become much more confident in my teaching abilities over the past few years, but if I were asked to list the teachers at my school that I consider leaders, I would not have placed myself on that list. I don’t have a formal leadership position and I don’t have as much experience as many of our teachers.

I recently ran across this really excellent article from The Atlantic that addresses American colleges’ and universities’ emphasis on leadership in admissions decisions. It dared to question whether our glorification of leading over following or working completely independently is really a good thing. It resonated with me because it put words to the disconnect I always felt when I was in Teach for America. Everyone kept talking about leadership, leadership, leadership and seemed to believe that everyone in the organization was a Type A innovator with an entrepreneurial spirit, which is basically the opposite of my personality. It made me question whether or not I really belonged in the organization and I think it hindered my growth as a teacher because I was trying to fit myself into that mold for awhile.

I don’t exhibit the traits that we in America traditionally associate with leadership. I am not a big-idea person. I am not a self-starter. I am not decisive. I’m very rarely the first person to notice a particular detail or develop a solution to a problem. I have zero experience motivating and inspiring adults and my go-to method for attempting to motivate and inspire students is to just be ridiculously, over-the-top in love with the things we read and write about.

I am, however, a follower. I always have been. When I was a kid, I would see other people breaking rules or being rebellious and I would think to myself, “That looks like a whole lot of work.” It always just seemed easier to do what people asked me to do rather than to constantly try to swim upstream (not that I didn’t have my defiant moments, as I’m sure my parents can tell you). In elementary school, getting my name on the board could reduce me to tears and I only had detention twice in my entire middle school and high school career. I liked going with the flow, following the rules, being the good kid.

I’m not an innovator. If you have ever heard me say something you thought was profound, I guarantee you I got it from an article I read or a conversation with a friend or an argument I overheard. I am a collector of ideas, a watcher, an aggregator of sorts. I soak up all the information I can get my hands on and let it bounce around in my head for awhile, and then try to express the amalgam in a way that will make sense to whatever audience I’m addressing. That’s what I do when I write blog posts, when I argue about politics with my dad, and when I teach my students.

Following and watching are not seen as commendable traits in our society. They are seen as markers of someone who is passive or lazy or unintelligent. Strong people go after what they want; weak people do what they are told. Strong people blaze trails; weak people retread safe ground. Rebellion is cool; doing what is expected is mundane. We’ve created this false dichotomy and I don’t think it’s made us better.

When I started working at my school, one of my favorite things was that the expectations for teachers were so clear. I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing to help build the school culture and be an asset to the school. In our particular setting, a great deal of success in the classroom depends on the teacher buying in to what the school is trying to do culture-wise. And I love what we are doing with our school culture! So from day 1, I have been on board and have been following my school leadership. That doesn’t mean I agree with all of the decisions, but it does mean that I trust that the people running our school have reasons for their decisions and that the best thing I can do for my students is to follow.

And so that’s what I’ve done. I’ve followed the vision our Head of School puts forth. I’ve followed the lesson plan template. I’ve watched other teachers and listened to other teachers. I’ve taken the things we talk about in professional development sessions and let them bounce around in my head until I could get them in a form that made sense to me and worked in my classroom.

As I thought about my principal calling me a leader in our school, I realized she may kind of have a point. I’m someone who frequently speaks up in faculty meetings and professional development (mostly because I hate awkward silences or my friend is leading the session and I’m trying to help out). The Latin teacher has come to me a few times this year to ask for advice on how to effectively incorporate more writing into his class. We’re doing peer observations this month and one of the middle school teachers has asked to come observe me. But I don’t think I got to this position by leading in the traditional sense of the word; I think I got here by watching and following. And I’m good with that.

A Love Letter, of sorts

Dear new teacher,

You know that feeling you have right now? Like this last week and a half are just dragging, but at the same time going too quickly for you to finish everything you need to do? The feeling of so looking forward to the break because you will get to feel human again, but also knowing that it will fly by and kind of already dreading going back in January? The feeling of “Oh crap, I have to do this for another whole semester starting in just a few weeks”?

That feeling goes away eventually.

This job is excruciatingly difficult for the first couple of years. It just is. It doesn’t have to be completely miserable, but it will not be sunshine and rainbows. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

But if you stick with it and fight through the difficulties, that feeling, that overwhelmed, underprepared, ill-equipped feeling – it fades. And one day you will be at the end of a semester and you will look around, and while you will still be busy, you will also be hopeful. Capable. Confident. Looking forward to all the amazing things you will do with your students when you come back in January.

I don’t know when this will happen for you. I would love to give you a specific timeline, a day you can count down to, but it doesn’t work that way. All I can promise you is that this job is worth the tough days.

It’s worth the long hours and the headaches and the nights you can’t get to sleep and the mornings where getting out of the car and walking into the building requires a really good song and mental pep talk. It’s worth the difficult phone calls home and the lessons that bomb and the times you say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

It’s worth it because there will be times you call home to tell a parent that their child did something awesome, and they will be so grateful. There will be lessons that don’t just go as you’ve planned, but become great shining moments of TV movie-worthy classroom interactions. There will be times when you have the right words at the right time and you will get to speak life into a student’s soul.

So take this upcoming break and do the things that make you feel human. Eat good food and spend time with family and enjoy your friends. Come back to your classroom in January looking to the future with hope because a day is coming when you will stop and look around and realize that you are finally able to be a teacher and a human at the same time without even having to think about it.

And when that day comes, you will look back on this day, and you will know that it was worth it.

You, my dear colleague and fellow warrior, are in my prayers. If I can be of help in any way, please do not hesitate to ask.

With all my love <3

Why I Love Being a “Veteran” Teacher

I am almost half-way through my 5th year of teaching, and it’s totally amazing (although how sad is it that making it to my 5th year somehow makes me a veteran? Only in education…).

This year has been such a blessing in so many ways. I’m teaching 9th grade for the third year in a row, so planning is much easier. I have a resident from MTR who is awesome and has brought new ideas into my classroom to help keep things fresh (she has also cut my grading in half, which is so wonderful). I have gotten the chance to have both formal and informal conversations with new teachers which has allowed me to share wisdom I have learned, both within the classroom and also about how to be emotionally and psychologically healthy while trying to figure out this whole crazy teaching gig. I am teaching my students for the second year in a row, which has given me the opportunity to really deepen relationships with many of them.

It is that last part that I think I am the most thankful for. Because I have known my students for a year and half now, I am able to notice patterns and changes that are more than just typical teenagery things. I was able to pull one girl aside after school and speak the truth of the gospel into her life for what may have been the first time. She has been taught a gospel of fear – she has spent most of her life believing that she will be sent to hell for doing or wanting to do wrong things. I was able to tell her the truth about Jesus’s finished work on the cross and the assurance that comes with His promise of salvation.

In another student, I was able to notice the signs of depression where it would have been easy to just see apathy. I talked with him and the counselor talked with him and we are now working to find a way to connect him with an outside counselor. This is a daunting task for a number of familial and cultural reasons, but he at least knows that there are people who see him and care about him and want to help him.

I don’t tell these stories to try to paint myself as some kind of super teacher – I am not. I still have bad lessons and I still say the wrong thing in class and I still have a lot to learn. But I finally feel like I am able to do the things I wanted to do when I decided to become a teacher. I am not just teaching my students about reading books and writing essays (although we still do plenty of that, of course). Now I am able to take advantage of opportune moments and teach them about life and truth and the beauty of the gospel. We talk about the power stories have to teach us empathy and then inspire us to do something with that empathy. We discuss how understanding the characters in a novel can help us improve our relationships with our families and friends.

I am reading a book right now that talks about God moving mountains through His people working to move one stone at a time, one after another, after another. The world is full of injustice and inequality and the education reform movement is full of flaws and insufficiencies and I often feel that my abilities are inadequate for the problems we are facing. But I am finally starting to see some of those stones move. I will keep moving the stones that God has placed in front of me, and trust that He has people at work in other parts of the mountain; if we are faithful, soon that mountain will have moved itself into the sea and we will be witnesses to a miracle.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers

%d bloggers like this: