That statement right there is my go to to avoid what my students call the feels. The moments sometimes so breathtaking or heartbreaking that you feel the lump crawling into your throat and your eyes begin to water. Eventually, the world knows and see how you really feel. It is vulnerable and maybe what some would call a weakness. I don’t though. I teach with my heart and it goes into every single thing I do.
Sometimes it is the heartbreak and sometimes it is the irresistible feeling of knowing something great just happened. The end of the year always brings that around for me. Come the last day I walk in chest heavy and tight because I know the tears will happen. Usually it is because I know that greatness happened. That lightening in a bottle feel. I have had it before as a college instructor, but now it is multiplied by students whom I have spent my last three years getting to know. Hours upon hours of classes and time spent learning and talking about things in life that sometimes matter a lot and some time don’t matter at all.
The hardest lesson for me has always been the idea that I can’t save them all. It was probably the first lesson I learned and the one I continue to have to learn over and over and over. But I want to I tell myself or If I don’t try who will? And I know it is this very striving that makes me a good teacher. Especially on the ones that others give up on. Not because they didn’t try but because sometimes you have to try harder then them and anyone that teaches knows that this is the quickest way to burn out and hate your job.
But for some reason my soul, my passion and my drive lies with those students. The ones with a metaphorical broken wing. I don’t ever go in believing I will fix them. But I always go in thinking I can be their champion and the one that reminds they can do it no matter their obstacle. That requires a lot of give, and faith and sometimes sadness.
But yesterday, the reality is I had to deal with one of the ones that I won’t/can’t save. I didn’t give up and neither did they. Instead their path just needs to be different and that is hard. It is for the best, but it is just hard. I grieve for the possibilities lost. I grieve at the choice and I grieve for the hope I had. And it doesn’t mean there is no hope. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE I say. But this was one of those times my best teaching lesson was to sit back, say good bye and hope. And yesterday I did that.
And quickly there was reminder, after reminder of that same student that didn’t look all that different but their path is and I was covered in thank yous and hugs and reminders that what I do matters even though sometimes it does break your heart and that even though it is hard sometimes hope will rise and love will win. It just isn’t in my time.