This article was written by Andy McCall. Andy is in his 9th year teaching, and does everything to honor his little girl, Penelope, who passed last year. He is the author of the new book: Pig & Steel. Check him out on his Blog.
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As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his accomplishments in both our classrooms and our lives, let us not forget what he has taught us, on all the other days of the year. His words of “I have a dream…” and “Darkness cannot drive out darkness…” are seen throughout our lessons whether in the short clips or the soundbites that we show our kids. However, there is one Martin Luther King Jr. quote that I believe is directed toward us teachers especially, whether he meant for it to be or not. It is something that is at the root of all our teaching and our hearts, and I hope for humanity’s sake that we never forget it:
This simple sentence can change the world, as we know it. Whether it be the words "glorious opportunity", "love", or "veins of our civilization" that resonates most with you as a teacher, it doesn’t matter. When you put them all together, it's what is happening in our classrooms during every lesson, every situation, every day.
My kids are not just white or black, neither are their unique situations. They come from single mothers, drug-addicted homes, two-parent households, and everything in between. Some wonder where their next meal is coming from and others wonder if their iPad will be charged when they get home. Teachers have the glorious opportunity to bring all these backgrounds and stories together, to do good in the world. There are endless quotes that describe what we do in a classroom each day, but unless we see each day as a glorious opportunity, none of them matter. We are at the forefront of change. We are the example whether we know it or not. True change doesn't come from the words of a President, a celebrity at an awards show, or some Twitter hashtag. Even though they might have a much bigger stage, nothing is more powerful than the daily impact of a teacher on their students. There is no more glorious of an opportunity than that, to inject love into the veins of our civilization.
Love is what made us all get into teaching. It definitely wasn’t the money or the fame, but love for children and education. And no, not just the good children, the happy children, and the children who put their names on papers, but all of them. And no, not just our love for maths or language arts, or P.E. or music, but our love for education, our passion for inspiring learning. We show up to make sure our students feel that love every day, no matter how challenging it might be. We are the rock and stability that children need, and sometimes all that they get. Our love in the classroom isn’t always all rainbows and glitter, but the children know it's there.
They are the veins of our civilization. Those veins will either flourish and expand to spread love or they can wither and grow dark. In today’s society, it's easy for hate and evil to overcome the love. But as teachers, we have the power to guide them down the path of love and glorious opportunity. I have a dream that one day we can keep the focus on growing our civilization, rather than directing it away from hate. But today, we keep fighting.
The focus in our classrooms on what Dr. King fought for will always be at our core values, but are just as important every other day of the year. Recite the speech, watch the clips, and have those conversations with your fellow teachers. And remember... we have the glorious opportunity to inject love into the veins of our civilization, from within the walls of our classrooms, every single day.