1. I know when to push, and when to let go.
I’ve learned that sometimes people need that extra nudge in the right direction, but I’ve also learned that sometimes people need to find their own drive. This goes for students, but for all relationships and their conflicts. Sometimes people need to be guided, and sometimes they have to face their own battles.
2. I know that there’s a fine line between enabling and saving.
Teaching has taught me that love means tough love sometimes. That sometimes we love people so much that we try to do things for them when they need to do them on their own. That sometimes the only way you can save someone is if you throw them into the water. That letting go will break your heart, but you have to pray that they’ll fight, kick, and scratch to the surface and find their way to swim.
3. I know the value of a good nap.
Sometimes you just get crabby in the middle of the day and the best thing for your body, mind, and soul (and the people around you) is to take a moment, close your eyes, and refresh. Yep, teaching has taught me that. There are days when I just can’t function without a little shut-eye. FYI: A solid twenty minutes can change you from a Scrooge to a wide-eyed, happy-go-lucky human. And whether you’re a teacher or a normal person, we all need a ‘restart’ button some days.
4. I know how to talk to people about the most painful things.
I’ve talked openly to students about depression, suicide, eating disorders, death, bullying, sexual assault, and abuse. I know how to carefully navigate painful waters, and how to be both a mentor and friend. I’ve learned that people, most importantly, don’t need to be told what to do or how they should react to a situation, but need to know that they’re not alone.
5. I know how to do three things at once, and do them well.
Because of teaching, I have now mastered the art of multi-tasking. I can answer emails, listen to someone speak, and articulate a response (that actually makes sense) simultaneously. I can eat a snack and teach something without spilling crumbs all over the table. I can listen to music, type, and read all at once. I’ve become a crazy, interrupt-driven individual but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
6. I know how to listen.
To be patient when I’m about to lose it. To know that the world is much bigger outside of myself. Teaching has taught me the art of listening. (Yes, sometimes listening and doing nine other things in my head because that’s the life of an educator.) But also listening fully—with eyes, ears, and facial expressions—real listening that develops relationships and is so essential to our humanity.
7. I know how to relax.
I know the value of feet up on an easy chair, body reclined, and a drink in my lap. I know that relaxation is good for the soul, and that there’s no reason to feel guilty about it after a long day. Teaching can be draining, but it’s taught me to give myself time to refresh. Then take on another day.
8. I know how to love people, even when they’re unlovable.
I’ve learned to love hundreds of kids as my own. Even when they don’t listen. Even when they blatantly disrespect me. Even when they don’t care. I’ve learned how to take people in, how to forgive, and how to keep pouring myself into their lives day after day. And even with the baggage and pain I carry from the students I cannot save, teaching has taught me that love will always be worth it. Every. Single. Time.