Teacher, my heart is heavy today because as of today, in the past week and a half, in my small community, we have lost three dear friends, sisters, wives, grandmothers, and daughters.
All three of them were teachers.
My heart aches for their family and friends, and also for their students and coworkers.
This brings me to reflect on what is important in our job, and what has no eternal value at all. Testing weeks are upon us and in full swing, but let us not be lost in dread and hopelessness and unnecessary stress.
Our jobs, after all, are not about testing.
In the midst of testing weeks where “stakes are high” and the rules are endless, I hope you remember your worth.
I hope you remember why you became a teacher.
I hope you remember what joy kids bring you.
I hope you remember the good that happens in your classroom.
I hope you remember the ministry of your work- that it isn’t about the students’ scores. It isn’t about how well they remember all the testing strategies you have taught them. It isn’t about their performance or recollection of all of things that you have taught them on a given day.
Teacher, your job is so much more.
You, teacher, are an inspiration. You change lives. You teach respect. You teach honesty. You teach conflict-resolution. You teach grace and mercy. You teach creativity. You teach thinking outside the box. You teach friendship. You teach how to learn from failure. You teach encouragement. You teach how to embrace and cherish diversity. You teach how to work through a challenge. You teach love.
You are more than your proficiency percentage.
Friends, they have no idea everything that you have taught this year. They have no idea the individual journeys you have been on with each of your kids. No one knows those journeys except you.
In fact, the greatest tragedy in our job is to value testing so much that it consumes our minds and motivations to where we cannot see our kids as kids. Kids that play baseball and soccer. Kids that dance and draw. Kids that sing and perform. Kids that have struggles at home. The second tragedy is like it, to consume your mind and motivations so much with testing that we cannot see teachers as human beings with actual beating hearts, with dreams, and with families.
Teacher, please take time to reflect and remember the journeys of each one of your kids for this year. Remember their failures. Remember all of their victories. Remember their tears. Remember their laughs. Remember those high-fives you shared when they “got it.”
This is what makes our job worth it. This is what we should value. This is what our jobs are really about.
And friend, not only are you a teacher, but you are also a sibling, parent, daughter/son, grandparent, friend. And it’s okay to be those things IN FULL.
As your kids are testing and you are walking around for hours for the next few weeks in silence, I hope a smile comes to your face as you think about the times that you have shared with your students this year.
And if you are in a school that shoves testing and scores down your throat, my heart truly aches for you. Please know you are not alone. And PLEASE know that the reality of scores and testing being everything is SUCH a lie. It is not the reality of God’s heart at all.
Our jobs, after all, are not about testing.
I love you all. Every single one of you.
Father, I wish I could wrap my arms around every single teacher in the state and tell them these truths. You are our righteousness and our salvation. Our hope lies in you alone. You are our Rock and our Strength when we cannot stand at all. Father, whatever comes in the weeks ahead, please help us to fix our eyes on you. Help us to remember what is valued in your eyes. Fill our minds with your truths, Father. Help us to love our coworkers well, as it can be a stressful time. Help us to love our kids well. Help us to be gracious, as you are full of grace. Father, pour out your Holy Spirit over our hours and days for the rest of the school year. You are our delight. Wrap your loving comforting arms around those with broken hearts. Pour out your peace over their minds. Hold them near. We love you.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18