I went to college to be a teacher. I was heavily influenced by teachers throughout my childhood, and it seemed logical to follow in those footsteps. Through a variety of twists and turns, my calling in life has shifted from the classroom to higher education, but my respect and admiration for teachers has remained steadfast, and that only grew once I had kids of my own.
For five years, I have watched my precious littles walk into classrooms, and I’ve trusted my most prized possessions to the capable hands of the most dedicated public servants I have ever seen. I’ve read emails, labeled school supplies, sent party decorations, and listened to classroom stories, and it is a marvel to me the superheroic effort of our teachers.
Although it should go without saying, we should pay them more, build statues for them, hold parades in their honor and sing their praises at every opportunity. Our teachers are being educators, parents, counselors, social workers, friends, and a backbone for our children. So this tribute is for them.
I see you. I respect you. I pray over you.
I pray for your words. Your affirming, powerful, encouraging words. Words that show grace, love and acceptance. Words of correction and instruction. Words of “you can do it” to students, words of “it’s going to be ok” to parents, and words of “we’ll make it work” to administrators.
I pray for your hands. Your precious, tired, hand sanitized hands. Your hands that move and swing with animation as you tell a story or explain a concept. The hands that grade papers, write encouraging words on a test, and scribble notes on a whiteboard. Your hands that type and respond to emails that interact with kids, parents and administrators.
I pray for your eyes. Your tired, beautiful, loving eyes. Your eyes that see beauty in each child’s face and potential in their futures. Your eyes that remain hyper vigilant to any notion of danger or concern. Your eyes that sparkle and show concern and interest, particularly now when that’s all you have to emote with under your mask.
I pray for your ears. Your exhausted, laser-focused ears. Your ears that must be ringing with the sound of your own name by the end of the day from the endless requests and questions of your class. Your ears that hear alarming words, some directed toward you and some you were not meant to hear. Your ears that sit in Zoom meetings and learn new information. Your ears that listen to concerns of weary parents on the phone and ears that take in another long-winded story from a child in front of you.
I pray for your body. Your energetic, but weary body. Your body that rises early and stays up late to get things done. Your body that needs more rest. Your body that bends to help a student in need and your body that finds sensible shoes so you’ll be comfortable running around the building all day. Your body that has had to pee for two hours but can’t find the time. Your body that needs to stay healthy, primarily for you and those you love, but also for the good of your students.
I pray for your mind. Your busy, genius mind. Your mind that is constantly processing “what ifs” and “I hope nots.” Your mind that has to have seven back-up plans at any given moment. Your mind that has to be present, while also assessing future needs. Your mind that is full of lesson plans, ideas, and worries. Your mind that processes all of the hurt, frustration and anger that is misplaced in your direction by all of the people you answer to (parents).
I pray for your heart. Your huge, life-altering heart. Your heart that loves children that you didn’t birth or raise. Your heart that sees joy and pain in your students. Your heart that swells with pride when students succeed and your heart that breaks with every heartache. Your heart that loves kids and chooses to walk into danger to do the job you love.
I pray for your family. Your wonderful, sacrificing beautiful family. Your family who is important to you. Your family that is full of its own needs. Your family that you take care of while being mom/dad for countless kids in your classroom. Your family that pitches in to move your classroom, paint furniture, and help with projects when you’re in too deep.
Now for the rest of us. My prayer for us is shorter because I believe our role this year is simpler.
I pray that we stay safe. Stay safe by understanding how our actions and choices affect others. Stay safe for your family’s sake, but also for the sake of those you come in contact with (teachers, students, etc.).
I pray that we extend grace. Extend grace in the same ways we expect to receive it when we email a hurried question or request. Extend grace as we discover errors or gaps because we’re all human and we all need it.
I pray that we celebrate teachers at every chance we get. Celebrate them to our friends, to our kids, to the administration. Celebrate them to their face, shower them with compliments in every email and exchange. Celebrate obnoxiously.