I was listening to your episode about the time you made a fart sound in class today and it was by far one of my favorites! Your podcasts are always a wealth of knowledge, but apart from the fact that you’re a master story teller, your story both brightened and brought tears to my eyes.
As a teacher, I often feel torn apart by criticism: from parents, society, politicians (who know nothing about education), administrators (who forgot what it was like to be a lowly teacher), other teachers, and even worse, myself. I’ve also experienced that moment of pride in a silent, busy classroom. Every student working diligently. No one asking for help. I can only imagine what would happen if I pulled your prank! Not cool enough to pull that, I have bonded with my kids over stories of my moments of forgetfulness or heartbreak. They’ve seen me cry when telling a story about coming to America or while reading the ending of Edward Tulane. My teammates have politely told me that I’m too friendly with my students. I disagree.
Kids need to know that teachers are real people that experience real emotion. Teachers have lives and problems like everyone else. Sometimes your home life and your work life enter-twine: you worry about your home problems at work and you think of your needy kids while making dinner. We gotta be tough enough for kids to respect us but soft enough for kids to trust us if they’re in a jam. That old adage of kids won’t remember the material you taught them but will never forget how you made them feel rings truer than ever.
I am truly sorry for the loss of your mentor. I am happy she taught and inspired you so much, but I am sad she felt so hopeless that she felt suicide was the only way out. Listening to your story reminded me how important it is to take time for self care. To not take life and work so seriously. That bonding with family and students is so important. Sorry for going on so long. Thank you so much for the work you do!