Love. I want to talk about love today. No, not romantic love, just love. I'm going to start with the best advice I got as a teacher and I feel that this is the best advice that I give to new teachers. I was pregnant with David when I started grad school for my degree in Education. The first class was taught by an actual teacher who referred to her students as 'kiddoes.' She went through all of the different ways and schools of thought on education. There is constructivist teaching and Montessori teaching, etc... I remember after the class, I felt overwhelmed. I went up to the teacher in a panic. "How am I supposed to differentiate instruction for 30 students?" I could see a whole generation of kids losing out on basic education because I was a lousy teacher. Teaching is a calling!!! The teacher looked at me with her years of teaching and told me something I have not been able to forget. "Love your kids."
Let me lay out this disclaimer. I am not talking about anything inappropriate. I had to go home and think about loving my kids. Just love them. When they come to you dirty and sweaty, love them. When they drive you nuts, love them. When they curse you out and are lashing at you because they don't know what to do? Love them!!! I think this is the secret to effective teaching. Love your students. Look at them through the lens of love. See that they are tiny humans (or not so tiny humans) who have already had hard lives and are only acting the way that they know. I see kids who act out and who don't know better. I see them out in the world and how the world will respond. I have a responsibility to love them first and then to teach them. Love your kids. I have been able to do more with this advice than anything else I can tell anybody in teaching.
What does this look like? It looks like standing in front of a class full of faces waiting to be instructed and telling all of them that you are there not because it is just a job, not because you couldn't find something else. You stand there and tell them, "I love you." I also tell them I will believe with and for them until they can believe in themselves. I tell them that they have a bright future despite their past. These are also the tenants of our school by the way. What I tell them is part of something that I have been a part of by working at my little charter high school. I have had students break my heart. I have had students die. I have had students fail and I continue to love them.
Here's the thing when it comes to love that I have figured out. I don't have love in limited reserves. I know that God is Love. He is the source of it so when I feel that I am running out I go to the source and renew my love through Him.
I John 4:7-12
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
So when the kids think that I'm a dummy for loving them (because they do), I tell them that loving them is my business. I tell them they can't tell me not to love them. I tell them that I will allow them to come into my heart and break it with their words and actions and it will be okay because it is my problem, not theirs. I will love them anyway. I will love them fiercely. I will love them and believe in their potential. I will. I do. I have. And I will continue.
So when it's not a kid but a messed up human, I will love them. When I am warned that they will only break my heart, it's okay. My heart will not be broken. My heart is no fragile thing. It has been strengthened by the act of loving like working our with weights... for decades. You can't tell me not to love. I will love anyway. I have enough. Don't worry.