This week, an elementary class in our district lost their teacher. Her unexpected death came as a shock to all. Although my to-do list seems never-ending and the hours in the day limited, I must keep perspective. My woes are inconsequential.
Today, I pray for her students who are dealing with a range of emotions they have likely never felt before. I pray for her colleagues as they come to grips with the reality of the situation. Most of all, I pray for this teacher’s family who have abruptly lost their daughter, sister, granddaughter and niece.
I am comforted by the words of Thomas Campbell: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Rest in peace Colleen.
I have accepted a challenge to read 52 books this year. (The picture books I read to students day in and day out don’t count!) 52 novels, biographies, nonfiction texts or memoirs. Ambitious? I think so given my schedule but I’m happy for the challenge.
Even in these first few weeks of the year, I’ve changed my reading habits. I have always read at bedtime but I find myself carving out more weekend time for reading: time I might choose to spend otherwise. I’ve also started bringing a book with me wherever I go. I read a few pages here and there while I’m waiting for appointments or a meeting to begin. In fact, the other day I was reading Hillbilly Elegy as I waited for the chiropractor. (When he walked in the treatment room he commented that I was the first one that day not on my phone.) I am also trying to keep two books on the go: books of different genres that I can choose between depending on mood.
I’m keeping track of my reading progress on Goodreads.com. Join me if you wish!
“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” JK Rowling
A few days into last week I wished someone a “Happy New Year” and asked how the break was. “Break? What break?” Isn’t it amazing how quickly we fall back into the routine of school? Christmas, holiday visitors, New Year’s, and holiday indulgences suddenly feel a distant memory. There’s no easing back into work as an educator. Once we’re back, we’re back!
- “Teacher! She’s bothering me.”
- “You know what happened this Christmas?”
- “But he did it first – “
- “Please excuse the interruption… the temperature is currently -20 degrees. It will be an indoor recess.”
Yes, once we’re back, we’re back. Fortunately, along with the demands come the hugs – especially in elementary. Some of our students might even say, “I missed you over the break.” And you know what, they really did.
Gotta love teaching!
Over the last week, I found an unexpected parallel. I read Becoming by Michelle Obama and I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – the documentary about the life of Fred Rogers. You may not think they have much in common. And yet, I drew many parallels between Barack Obama and Fred Rogers.
When I read Michelle Obama’s words about her husband, she speaks of a man with vision, a man who thinks beyond himself simply as a course of being. She describes the first time she witnessed this quality in Barack. He challenged a room full of people by saying “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?” His words are not simply words: they are indicative of his daily actions and interactions. His call to action is one he responds to each and every day.
When watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I saw the same quality in Fred Rogers. He was a man who chose to do something not for his own advancement, monetarily or otherwise, but because he, too, had vision. He, too, wanted to do something beyond himself: in his case, with children.
As we begin this new year, I find myself asking:
- What is my purpose beyond myself?
- Do I go about my days for a pay cheque or because I am called to make a difference in the lives of educators and children?
- Do I work for my own good or to make this world a better place?
- Do I believe in my own potential to make a difference?
This year I will strive to respond to Barack Obama’s call to action. I will not settle for the world as it is; I will strive to work for the world as it should be.