Here’s a sentence I’m proud to write:
I’m a preschool teacher.
This is my basement, where I spend every Monday and Tuesday morning with the five most brilliant and beautiful children God ever blew breath into.
Yes, I know, yours are lovely, too
I don’t know how to describe my feelings about being trusted with the privilege and responsibility of shaping childrens’ hearts and minds.
I always say that I am passionate about teaching children to read because to me, it’s akin to teaching someone how to take a deep breath. Because it’s like teaching survival. Because reading is what saved me and still saves me every day.
Reading is what taught me to empathize and connect with myself and others.Through books I found myself and discovered that the truth would set me free. Through others’ stories I learned that we are all pretty much the same, and that there’s really not much to be afraid of since we’re in this together. And because through reading I found God.
All that is true, but it hit me this morning, looking at these pictures, that the truest reason I love teaching is a little more selfish. I think it’s because when I’m teaching, I am my favorite version of myself.
I always question my motives out there in the real world. Whenever I do, say, or write anything, altruistic or not, I wonder if I’d have done it if I knew no one would find out. I suspect a lot of what I do publicly is done for attention, acceptance, or praise…from peers, friends, competitors, family.
But when I’m with my three year old preschoolers, just the six of us, and we’re examining a caterpillar, or we’re finger painting a giant E together, or we’re working SO DAMN HARD to make those scissors work, or we’re crying together because somebody took our doll and our little hearts are broken…and I’m on my knees to make eye contact, and I’m trying to love them through their morning…I really, really like myself. I feel patient and kind and wonderful because no grown- ups are watching and I’m still being patient and kind. Which proves to me that down deep inside, there is a part of me that is real and true.
And it also proves something else to me.It’s just me and God down there in the basement on Monday and Tuesday mornings. He’s the only one who will see if I give up, if I snap at a student, if I ignore a struggling writer. And since I don’t, since I keep trying to make Him proud, it proves to me that I believe in Him.Because if I didn’t believe He was watching, I sure as heck wouldn’t try so hard. And I suspect that’s why I love teaching so much. That’s why teaching is so sacred to me. Because being in the classroom, even more than being in a church, proves to me that my faith is real. And that makes me feel safe and whole and important. And close to God. And that is why teaching preschool is the most important thing I do all week.
It may look like I’m rolling out playdoh with my buddies, but what I’m really doing is dancing with God.
It’s been said that character is what you do when noone’s watching, but I think that faith is what you do when noone’s watching. More to the point, faith and character, for me, are inextricably linked.
To the teachers who read this blog -Thank you. Thank you for taking care of our future, of our children, when no one is watching. You do the most challenging and sacred job in the world. I appreciate you.
Ya’ll come back to Momastery for a 3 o’clock cocktale to help you through to the finish line.