“As a young teacher, I yearned for the day when I would know my craft so well, be so competent, so experienced, and so powerful, that I could walk into any classroom without feeling afraid.” – Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach.
As I think of every amazing teacher I know, I can imagine this sentiment to be exactly the same - and regardless of the number of years that have passed, and the difference that each one has made in the lives of literally thousands of students, it's a sentiment they feel far beyond their early years of teaching.
If I could, I would tell those teachers (really, all teachers) that despite those doubts, they are incredibly valued. And not just for the meticulous planning, the long hours and the high standards they hold themselves to; but also for the heart they give each and every day. So here's the truth:
Teachers are powerful. For each and every student you greet with respect and hope for their future, your power grows. You have the power to inspire, motivate and encourage. You have the power to heal with your love and compassion. You have the power to uncover the strength within each and every student.
Teachers are competent. From the first time you made a student smile, you became a leader, a role model and an advocate. Your ability to see each student for who they really are, and to see their actions separately from their heart, is astonishing. Your patience and consistency is heroic. Your pursuit of learning and mastery has no limit. And that alone is the fullest expression of true competence.
Teachers are Courageous. The stakes in education are higher than ever. Students are under more pressure than ever, and by default, so are instructors. But that's a challenge you accepted and continue to accept every day. Your courage then, and your courage now, will be the inspiration needed to continuously transform education.
So whether you're fifteen years into your teaching career, or fifteen minutes, you've probably felt that pressure. You want to transform your students' lives, rock testing and shape groundbreaking curriculum. But don't let those things be the only tangible measures of your success; don't forget to count the smiles, or the kind comments from parents. Take pride in the heart you give. Be courageous enough to stay in the fight.
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