Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Gratitude and Grace
Tonight at yoga class the teacher started talking about doing yoga at a school with children. She mentioned how she really enjoyed teaching them, but that the best part was how they made lovely personal thank you notes for her. She said that those thank you's where such a wonderful reminder of how gratitude can be one of the easiest, simplest, and most treasured gifts to receive.
It reminded me of something that happened to me during my first few years of teaching. Which in turn reminded me of how the very first year I taught I couldn't imagine making it to Thanksgiving...much less the seven years that I have now completed teaching. I remember when we hit Thanksgiving break, I went down to the music teacher's room (who was another first year fresh out of school girl) and I did leaps around her room in pure esctatic joy. I was so excited to have a little break from pretending to know what on earth I was doing. I knew that I wanted to teach, I just wasn't so sure that I had any idea how to go about it in the correct way. Which I now find funny. Cause there is no correct way, there are many correct ways.
Anyway...the original event I remembered was this: I had been teaching for two years. I was over worked and often anxious. I never knew if what I was doing was in fact having any impact besides keeping everyone entertained/busy during their special block. I continually questioned if I could continue doing this for another....five...ten...fifteen....twenty years. I often ended the day exhausted physically and mentally fried. I sometimes entered the school building in the morning with a sense of impending doom...worried about whether or not I was ready for a day of working with 140 different children ranging from 5 to 13. I sometimes sat in my classroom with the lights off and cried after everyone went home. I didn't know that I would feel so isolated and lost. I tried to not let anyone see this. Especially not my students. But I couldn't help feeling like maybe this profession was not for me.
One particularly stressful day...I taught my fourth grade students their lesson...and I remember feeling like I didn't do a good job. That I could have done it better. That my classroom management was not very good. That I really wished I could be the teacher that my students needed. At the end of the class...when I was rushing to get together supplies for the next group coming in....one of the little girls shouted my name. She was trying to get my attention as I rushed around the room. She came over to me and said "I have something to give you."
I figured it would be a doodle or some other little thing. Instead she quickly deposited a packet of papers and whirled out of the room with her class. I was left by myself for a few minutes so I sat down to look at what she had given me.
It wasn't just a doodle. It was a six page illustrated story. A story that was all about me. It told of how I arrived at the school the year before. It talked about this little girl's anticipation of my class...how excited she was to meet me. It described her memories of meeting me. It even went on to tell of how she was going to grow up...and have children...and I was going to teach them too. It was a tribute usually only reserved for celebrities. She expressed her infinite gratitude for me as her teacher in a way that I never asked for and never expected. It was hands down the most incredible thing anyone has ever made me. It not only made my day....but sort of made my entire teaching career. Just minutes before I had been questioning my capability to be a teacher at all. And after reading this little story I felt like...how can I not be a teacher? It was one of those moments when I realized that sometimes in life something bigger then we are interferes and clearly shows us what we need to see. As my yoga teachers say....what a difference a difference makes.
I'm grateful for all the people that have let me see what a difference a difference makes...including all my students. Peace.