Lately I have not been able to stop thinking about how truly important it is to always stay humble and kind (thanks Tim McGraw for your wise words), especially in the teaching profession. Look, I get it. We all have problems. Some worse than others, but they are still problems, and we are still humans with feelings. So no matter how big or small our problems are, they hurt and at times they totally suck. The thing is, to be a good teacher (or human for that matter) we need to realize that everyone has problems, trials, accidents, issues, obstacles, or whatever you want to call them, and no one is immune. So, maybe you are the parent mourning the loss of your child gone too soon. Or you are the little boy who just lost his dog, who was also his best friend. Or maybe, you are the person who had a horrible day at work with a crazy, micro-managing boss. Whatever the case, let’s remember we all have challenges and we are all human.
I will never forget the time a student gave me a used T-shirt, most likely their own or bought at a thrift shop, wrapped in a grocery sack for Christmas. The truth is, the shirt was ugly and it was too small (bless them for thinking I was a size x-small in the junior’s department). However, they gave all they had to make me happy. That was it. This student was concerned about my feelings, and wanted me to feel appreciated. It worked. I loved that shirt and the message it taught me. We must always CHOOSE to be humble and kind in our circumstances. When we choose kindness, we can see the light in others, and realize we are all in this big mess-of-a-life together.
As a teacher, I saw many situations my students faced at home, that I don’t think I could have faced at their age. It is crucial to be the teacher who sees a student struggling and loves them for who they are, and not the student we wish they would be. It is important that we show all students kindness, considering we may be the only kind person they see all day. It is paramount that we face each situation with a humble heart knowing these students are trying their best.
While showing kindness to our students may be the easy part, our colleagues can be another issue. Sometimes the hardest issue. My first year of teaching I was, quite literally, given the class from heaven. We have all had these classes. You know, the ones that follow all the rules. The classes that love school, turn in homework, and are just so happy ALL. THE. TIME. I have realized getting a class like that your first year is lucky. However, another teacher down the hall was not as fortunate as me. It was also her first year. Being the naive teacher I was, I kept thinking, “Why is she struggling with classroom management? It is not that hard.” Woah. I was NOT being humble. Or kind for that matter. Well, karma folks, it’s brutal. The next year, I had her class. OK, I get it now, not all classes are created equal. I ate a good amount of humble pie that year, and commend my colleague for still wanting to teach. We have all been there, but remember, we are a team so let’s act like one.
As teachers, we want to change lives, we want to inspire goodness. To do this, we need to work together as teachers, students, and parents. Kindness is a group effort, and the most important life lesson we can teach our students.
So when someone offends you, don’t throw bullets back. When someone tries to steal your work, stick up for yourself and remember who your true friends are. Don’t be the person who has to hurt others to be successful. Don’t be the person who speaks unkindly without hearing the whole story. Be the person who knows no one is perfect, and we are all trying our best. Chances are, there is someone else out there with bigger fights to face and heavier hearts to bear.