You don’t always have to be tough

img_5108Today I was nominated for teacher of the year.  I have no idea of the odds of me actually receiving the award.  I do not know if it took 12 people or one to get me the nomination, but I checked my e-mail, and there it was.  TOY nomination form (the irony of the acronym is not lost on me).  I almost laughed aloud.  My patience with my classes was slim to none.  I did not laugh or smile as much today.

Perhaps it was a projection of my views on the presidential election.  Perhaps not.  I thought I would have strong opinions one way or the other, but I did not.  I think I would have the same sense of uneasiness if Hillary won.   I am not overly political.  I get that everything about politics affects me, but with my just-in-time mentality, I have so much pressing in my own day-to-day affairs that I can not necessarily see the big picture of politics.  My calm is not set up so that I can handle deciphering the truth.  As I stated yesterday, I quickly get lost in the details.

But I think it was the letter from a mom of one of the students that I teach that really put me over the edge.   I will not go into detail so I do not accidentally reveal the student, but I watched as a mom sent a letter on behalf of her son.  You see, she is trying to save his life, and she has done everything she can so she enlisted our help.  She is doing the best she can, and she is holding on to hope and a prayer, and all she wants is for the best the world has to offer him.

As I read that letter, the tears began to fall, and I put myself in the shoes of that woman, and I said to myself, we have got to save him.  Her son is the type to get lost in the cracks.  He is quiet, and, as teachers, we love the quiet ones.  But, too quiet, and you become forgotten – another face of a student whose name we can not remember, but this mother’s letter, I will never forget.  I have read hundreds and maybe even thousands of letters from parents desperate for their children to figure out they need high school, but this woman’s letter possessed entirely different undertones.  Her letter’s desperation overflowed with determination that she would do whatever she needed to ensure her son would make it…whatever it was…

She did not demand make-up work.  She did not require extended time.  She simply asked that we accept him as is.  She requested that we teach him the lesson, but even if he does not learn a thing that could we please make sure we keep an eye on him because he does not yet know what serves his best interest.  She told us that if we need to know every anything at all, we could certainly ask.  She said there was nothing she would hold back, and in nutshell, she just asked for a helping hand to save her son.

Therefore, before my work day began, I realized I cared nothing about whether or not my students learned to solve systems of equations by elimination.  I just hoped to help save that woman’s son.  And I sat in a meeting where we decided on the wording on questions for the final exam, and for the 500th time, I thanked God for our interventionist.  I wanted to scream, “Who cares?” but that’s not how a potential teacher of the year should act so I kept my thoughts to myself…

The truth is, I love my children – at work and at home, and if they never learn the quadratic formula, I could not care less.  I want them to learn how to be human beings.  I want them to learn to survive in a cruel world where people lose friends and cut ties because of a presidential election.  I want them to learn how to send e-mails to save their own children…


I want them to be nominated for teacher of the year for doing nothing other than being themselves, day in and day out.  I want them to know that someone, somewhere cares enough to write a letter to save their lives.  I want them to know that if they never understand the intricacies of advanced math, they still matter.

I want them to know that however tough I pretend to be, I do not mean it.

They knew I loved them today.  I could hear a pin drop while I went over the specifics of how to find x after you solve for y.  I saw each of them send their own imaginary e-mails.  I watched them try to save me from whatever it was that was creating this side of the teacher with which they had never become acquainted.  I felt their hugs, heard their “I love you Mrs. B” (‘s?), and I am forever grateful they did not buy into my tough act.

In this month of gratefulness and Thanksgiving, may we all remember that sometimes toughness is not the answer.  Sometimes we protect ourselves and do so much to groom our children and loved ones that we lose our softness.  We do so much defending of why our way is the right way.  We set up our routines and need anyone who loves us fall in line that we forget the world does not necessarily need more tough.  The world does not need more people like this mom just trying to get her son to survive today and tomorrow…

The world needs more transparency.  The world needs more people who recognize that unity saves more lives than division ever will.  The world needs more imaginary hugs and silent “I love you’s.”

The world needs groups of people just trying to save each other – one individual at a time.

What do you think the world could use more?

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NaBloPoMo November 2016

The Blogger's Pit Stop

10 thoughts on “You don’t always have to be tough

Add yours

  1. Beautiful and very truthful post. Toughness isn’t always the answer. I think the world needs more open-mindedness, the election is a prime example of that but there are other manifestations of that principle also.


  2. I am so inspired reading this. God bless you for what you are doing for those precious children. You’ve empowered me to be more open minded, less critical and generally a better person. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations, Brittany! You certainly deserve the nomination. I have a wish that one day differences will be accepted. That people will not fall through the cracks because they don’t look a certain way, or believe the way other people do. It is only when we celebrate uniqueness that another Einstein, Dr. King, Lincoln, or Sagan will emerge. A truly beautiful post with an amazing message!

    Liked by 1 person

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