Taking to this post, I realize that I haven’t put pen to paper in quite a while. Reflecting on the reason why; I suppose I have been preparing my heart to pour out what it has been longing to say for quite some time now. It is my humble and honest hope that I can use the platform of this blog to not only share teaching ideas and knowledge of matters relating to remedial and inclusive education, but also to inspire and uplift a community of those educators who feel the every day pressures, doubts and fears that go hand in hand with the weight of our responsibility. For I too am on a journey, one that sees me riding wave after wave of emotion daily, and it is in sharing my real life experiences and thoughts that I hope to relate to and enlighten others. So after a a brief hiatus from writing…here it goes….
As a South African, a teacher, a Christian; a war has been raging on in my heart for a while now. It is with a deep sadness that I acknowledge the plight of so many women, children and foreign nationals in my beloved homeland at the moment. I have constantly found myself in a position of defending my country and my choice to stay and not teach elsewhere because myself and my husband feel called to do a greater work in this country that we choose to still believe in. However, recent events have really challenged me to my core. As shocking headline after shocking headline seemingly steamrolled South Africans and the world over this week, negativity, fear, anxiety and frustration washed over and I, like many others, felt drained by the sheer emotion of it all. Having shared previously about my nature as an empath, I often find myself struggling under the weight of the fears, anxieties and frustrations of others as well as that of my own. Part of my journey has been reaching a point of embracing this side of me for it means that I as a person and a teacher truly DO care. I care with a deep passion but acknowledge that at times, (many a time in fact), I do lack the courage and boldness needed to actively pursue what needs to be done in the fight for social justice within our greater society. Do I think I make a difference in the lives of those I teach and I have taught? Yes. Do I think I could be making more of an impact towards a greater society as a whole? Definitely!
For every pebble thrown into the water, there is a ripple effect. I choose to see the children that cross my path as pebbles, pebbles that when dropped into the ocean can create far more than just a ripple but a tsunami of change and positivity. I have to believe this if I am to have any faith in the future generation of leaders, parents, caretakers and change makers. It is with this image in mind that I feel how we nurture and care for those pebbles before we release them into the ocean is heavily dependent on what we as the adults in their lives choose to model and focus on.
Teachers, rather than focusing on producing A+ students and a praiseworthy reputation, let’s shift our focus onto producing a generation of critical thinkers and morally driven doers. Instead of focusing all our energy on teaching children to count, let us teach them what counts the most…living a life of:
Accountability and responsibility
Respect for ALL life
Yes, I am aware that it is NOT the sole responsibility of us as teachers to instill these values and principles in our children alone, but as those who are in a position of direct influence – let us never underestimate the value of our purpose. Strive to create meaningful relationships with each and every one you teach in an environment where they feel they belong and are understood. In helping them to feel loved, valued and understood, we are planting seeds of sincerity, respect and kindness from which all others values can flourish and bloom from the same tree. Get to know your children by name and heart, encourage character building and acknowledge acts of good deeds and kindness rather than praising high marks alone. Let us discipline with love along with consistency and fairness and not with frustration and misunderstanding.
Parents, may you seek to work side by side with your child’s teachers in support of them and not against them because believe it or not, we do all have your child’s best interests at heart for we wouldn’t be in the poor paying profession that we are if we didn’t feel that our purpose far exceeds the fee. We are in fact humans too, and we don’t always get it right but we try and we should not stop trying. As adults, we all bear the responsibility of modelling to the future generation what is needed in this world.
“The world is changed by your example not your opinion”Paul Coelho
I am not a perfect person and teacher – I do not claim to be. In fact, in writing this I felt compelled to search within my own heart and character and challenge myself to do better. There is no more time to contemplate making a change, it is time to be the change – it is time to shift our perceptions of what we value most and invest in the lives of those who are to be immeasurably valued.