I fill a bucket with water and soap. Bubbles slowly rise to the surface as the two substances combine into a froth of white foam. There is much to do today and little time to do it all in. I have my classroom sectioned off into centers, so today’s goal is to clean the computer station and the puzzle and games center.
It might look like I am cleaning, but what I am really doing is readying the classroom for the little bodies that will plunge through that door (at the bottom of the stairs- turn right) come Thursday morning of next week. I am readying things. Making sure all is clean, orderly and attractively arranged. It’s slow work, but I like the quiet.
Gives me time to think.
For while I clean shelves and wipe down cupboards, I ready my mind. Clean out the cobwebs, so to speak. I need my head to be in the game, need my thoughts to be organized. Need my mind to be clear. For when all is said and done, it’s not the classroom that houses the potential and possibility to make this year the best one ever for my incoming class: it’s me.
I’m the teacher.
With that in mind, I’ve been reflecting on what I plan to teach this year, along with the usual letters, numbers, reading and writing. And what I want to teach this year is how to love.
How to love, not how to hate.
How to care for one another. Reaching out beyond one’s own familiar world so as to make a difference in the life of another.
How to be compassionate. Showing concern for those going through hard times, displaying empathy for those with struggles and consideration for the needs of others. Above all, living a life marked by gentleness in one’s interactions toward all living things.
How to be grateful. Thankful for what we’ve been given. Appreciative of little gestures and small tokens of thoughtfulness. Pleasure for the gifts of life that are not transitory.
Because what I want to teach this year is the art of loving, not the vanishing pleasure of greed.
How to see that what we’ve been given is enough. Acknowledging that we have a responsibility to share the love, share the blessing. Spread the message of hope.
How to give from the heart, expecting nothing in return. How to live one day at a time.
How to strive for justice and freedom for all even in the midst of everyday living. Not just saying that we do- living it as well.
Yes, what I want to teach this year is love, not apathy.
How to see that indifference is the same as condoning the same behaviors we find offensive in society.
How to acknowledge that one’s lack of interest in speaking out about what they believe to be of value and of worth is weakness. We need to find strength in our convictions. Hopeful joy in our abilities.
How to see that one’s boredom and lethargy is the obstacle between self and understanding the world better.
For what I want to teach this year is that love is both the message and the outcome of a life lived well- for one’s own joy as well as for the joy of others. Not denying my place in history, but embracing it.
What we really need is love. It’s what I really need. Because it’s not the world I am trying to change:it’s me. And I know it will happen if I just take it one day at a time. One sure foot placed securely in front of the other.
And starting with me as the student, that’s what I want to teach this year.