As I was thumbing through my Facebook feed this morning, I came across a quote by Aza Brown Hightower: “You can’t change the whole world, so just work on your world— the classroom.” It was a boost in that it was a reminder to me of why I got into the job in the first place. If you’re like me, you got into education with the grandiose vision of changing the world— at least the world that I inhabited. Some would say that making a difference in one student’s life would be enough to hang your hat and put it in the books as a good year. I’m not saying that it isn’t a remarkable feat to have one student take themselves to the next level as a result of your teaching. I’m saying that I have not afforded myself the luxury of having reached just one— I want to reach them all. This is a tall task considering the fact that no matter how hard I work, there are always those that I will fail to reach. It is in these realizations, that I am humbled by the reality of just how hard the job can be.
I am a dreamer which is something that has allowed me to imagine a world that is kinder, more gracious, more empathetic, and more loving than the one that we currently inhabit. I believe that we have the ability to make an impact on the world by spreading positive ripples out into the larger community.
This quote struck me at a time when I was feeling a little less optimistic about my ability to create the kind of change that will truly be impactful on the lives of all my students. I have written many times about the need define your mission and to continue to revisit the reason that we teach. As someone who has lofty dreams about the classroom community that I want to create, I have to continually bring myself back to the fundamental reasons that I teach. It is especially important to remind ourselves of these things in times that reality doesn’t align with our dreams— as they so often do. At the same time, it is important to continue to remind ourselves that although things may have turned out exactly as planned, we are moving forward in a better direction.
Through even the most difficult times I will continue dreaming of a kinder more loving world for my students to grow into. I will continue to empower them with the tools to be a part of making this dream possible. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a pastor, or just a human in this world we should all be united around changing the world—starting with our own.