I am a teacher, not a miracle worker. Though most days I wish I were.
There is nothing simple about the profession I have chosen. No hard and fast rules you can play by. Everyday the game changes because everyday you are playing a different game. Every hour that you teach (and depending upon where you teach), you have anywhere from 12 to 20 to 35 different individuals sitting in front of you. Each one of them an entire universe unto themselves. They have different names, nationalities, ethnicities and origins. They have different likes, passions and interests. They have different learning styles and educational challenges. They have varying levels of interests and abilities. They come from different backgrounds and sadly, even in a private institution, some of them find school the safest place to be.
I am a fixer, a peace maker, a grand negotiator . . . one looking for answers in a world filled with questions. And when I read the words of these students. Oh, these students. These kids who feel the sting of betrayal, the pain of abandonment . . . these kids who are at war with their insecurities and as a result, at war with one another. These kids who know the horror of heartbreak and the deafening silence of loss. What are we to do in this vast waste land of pain? How do we, the educators in this world, balance the ever increasing demand to stamp out ignorance with knowledge and the ever increasing emotional isolation our students feel? How do we decide each and every day, like Solomon, what is more important in this moment? Nouns or nourishment? How do we fix it?
One word: hope. It’s all we have. It’s the only weapon in our arsenal as of yet undefeated and undeterred. My students hear about this Jesus character from the moment they come to school until the moment they leave . . . from the verse of the day in the morning announcements to the opening prayer before math class. They hear it so much, in fact, that some of them have been lulled into a mistaken belief that if He were really the answer, He would have shown up by now. They have walked these halls long enough to pick out the phonies from the followers, and their heightened sense of sophistication belies their undeveloped spiritual maturity. They have been drinking the water so long, they’ve forgotten how to feel thirsty.
Oh, my young friends and all of those valiant warriors standing in front of them every day. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose heart. Every great teacher I have ever had, and every great teacher I have ever known . . . my mentors and my educational heroes have all shared one thing in common: unrelenting love. Love for their subjects, love for their calling, and most of all, love for their kids. When I ponder my teachers of old, I don’t remember Wordsworth or Shakespeare. I remember how much they loved me. How they sacrificed their planning periods to listen and to counsel. How they indulged my immaturity in the hopes of a better day. How they reminded me that each moment was the beginning, not the end. How they encouraged me never to give up. And, I didn’t.
It is that love that gives us the strength to keep coming back everyday. It is that love that give us the self control to choose moderation over malice. It is that love that gives us hope. Oh, make no mistake, there is an answer in this world full of questions. And He just so happens to be the grand architect of hope.