Sunday, February 07, 2010
A GRATEFUL TEACHER
As my years in the classroom have passed, I have increasingly enjoyed a feeling of gratitude at the end of a school day. I often compare it to a feeling at the end of a hike in the Grand Canyon. Sure, things might not have gone exactly the way I had planned (perhaps a fall on the trail, or only half of a lesson covered), but how can I complain when I’m surrounded by a canyon of the gods or a group of children born to be brave and wise? If you’re in paradise, shouldn’t you feel grateful at the end of the day, no matter what happened? It takes no effort to complain (many of us teachers would get straight A’s for our griping and grumbling), but it sometimes– surprisingly – takes concentrated effort to see the miracles right in front of our eyes. When I hear teachers complain about their work with young people, I picture people sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with blindfolds on. How did they come to forget how fortunate they are? When I think of the millions of people who have no job, and the millions who labor in physically wearying work, and the millions who see zero positive results from their toil, it’s hard to feel sympathy for teachers who grouse about their work with the youth of our world. Is it easy work? No, and neither is hiking a high trail in the Grand Canyon, but the rewards are inestimable. At the end of most days, I sit in my empty classroom and feel utterly grateful. I wonder, over and over, how I got so lucky. How did the universe happen to set me down in this clean, well-lighted place where dozens of emergent human beings come to me each day for guidance, support, and companionship? Maybe it was a rough day, but, like a difficult day in the Grand Canyon, the roughness is smoothed out and softened, always, by the shear substance and magnificence of the work I am damn lucky to be doing.