As the Easter holiday has passed, my heart is full, and I’m amazed how my faith in God has kept me going in a time that is truly very rigorous. My son was born this past December, my fifth child, and the joy he brings to my life is what gave me hope after losing my Dad a month later. Dealing with these changes in my life, caring for my family, and then returning to my full-time teaching position has made life very hectic! But it’s a good life and I love it. The encouragement, support, and empathy I have received, from close friends and colleagues, has proved to be invaluable as my family and I put a new life routine into practice.
It all has me wondering in this fast-paced life, how often do we encourage each other?There are times I walk the halls of my school, and I try repeatedly to say, “Hi” to my passing colleague, only to be ignored. I wonder if they are consumed in their thoughts or if they don’t like me? I brush it off, but it worries me. We have too much at stake to go through our day as teachers, stakeholders, and ignore one another. You’d think that looking up and saying hello to someone passing by is basic etiquette, but maybe we are so consumed inside our own stressed out brains, we forget to see who is right in front of us?
One of the first books I read after going full time in the classroom again, in the fall of 2015, was Kim Bearden’s book, Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me, and it has so much wisdom I’ve taken to heart! Chapter Nine, titled “Generosity” is one of my favorites. The course description says, In this course, you will learn how lifting others will help you lift yourself. This chapter is about how some of the service learning projects her students have done have taught them how serving others can pull them out of their own despair in life. She recounts how their school cheers for each other with genuine love and enthusiasm. The last line of this chapter, the one that has stuck in my head for almost three years now, reads, The more we elevate one another, the stronger we all become. She also autographed my book, with the words that I matter. She may write this in all her fans’ books, but it still meant something to me because I saw love radiating from her throughout the days I spent at her school, The Ron Clark Academy (RCA).
Lifting each other up and telling each other we matter is so relevant in our education system today. Just look at the headlines of the states with teachers, schools, and parents protesting to their state governments that they want better for their students and families. They deserve to have a salary that can support a family, and the students they teach deserve to have everything from new textbooks to enough chairs for a whole class! There is such a teacher shortage in these states, such as Oklahoma, because teachers can’t support themselves or their families on inequitable pay, so they leave and teach in other states! It’s been great to see my teacher friends and mom friends support these educators demanding more, even while politicians, elected officials, deride them as tantrum throwers. We must encourage these brave educators because we are in this together. Their victories are our victories, and their losses will affect us all in powerful ways.
So when a teacher in your school receives an award, congratulate her. Lift her up! Maybe you are more qualified and there is a bit of resentment because you have gone unrecognized (this is a natural human feeling), but the more positive words we share with one another, the more we lift ourselves out of these pity party ruts! Your day will come when someone elevates you for the unique abilities you have, too! I’ve been around professionals who are afraid if they congratulate another coworker, it’s like admitting they aren’t as good as that person. Don’t give into that! Lift your peer up! It might be their party right now, but joining in their celebration will lift your spirits too. You will be part of their victory. Giving into resentment will not help you or anyone else around you, especially your students and children who look up to you.
We are living in a time when we need to be lifting each other up, celebrating each other’s’ gifts, awards, and even joining in our teacher friends’ fight for equitable pay! If you need a good place to start, think of a person who has really impacted your life and reach out to them–today! That person probably really needs some encouragement right about now. I bet after your phone call or meeting, you’ll feel even lighter, too. I ENCOURAGE you to do it NOW. Speaking life to someone doesn’t cost you a dime, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap…it’s priceless.