Watching this video, which is part of the Global Oneness Project's empathy lesson,
will make you really think about why you became a teacher. I know I did. I also cried a little.
Many students are lucky enough to live their lives with all of the love and support they need at home. For every one of those kids, there are a handful of others that aren't as fortunate. Sometimes all of the love and support they receive is at school. As educators, most of us have a knack for spotting those kids and making those important connections. Often, people don't understand why this is...but we all have a story behind the why. Like Wright says in this video, "The reason why things work is love."
As I watched, I thought of my high school physics teacher who made me love physics. But then, when this physics teacher told his story...I thought about my father and my sister. The latter shaped my adventure in education.
My older sister was severely and profoundly handicapped. Born in the 1960s, there was little knowledge about what caused her condition. The doctors said for my parents to put her in an institution, forget about her, and have more children. Lucky for me they chose to ignore the first parts. I watched my father's devotion to my sister. Life was not easy with a disabled child. Even though I was a few year's younger, I boldly took on the role of protector. I remember pushing her wheelchair when we were out, barely able to see over it, and confronting people who stared and whispered. I remember being mad at them for being rude. I was 4. I wanted to make them understand that she was aware of what was going on around her and that they needed to not be hurtful. Empathy....they needed to understand!
I attended preschool with her at an innovative program designed for kids like my sister and their younger siblings. It was the early years of inclusive programs. Once I started real school, I was bused to a "normal" school. It wasn't until we had moved to North Carolina and I was in high school that kids like my sister were in the same school as I was. More importantly, I got to know other kids in my school who were like me - they had siblings like mine! Many teachers didn't know what life was like for me at home. But the ones that really got to know me, they inspired me. Mrs. Strickland and Mrs. Lennon...they solidified my decision to go into education. They somehow managed to see that there was more to me than met the eye and encouraged me. I thought I wanted to go into special education, until I met Dr. Kamenish and Dr. Bachner when I got to college and on the School of Education track. It was then that I realized my true passion and ultimately became an English teacher.
My path may have shifted slightly, but I never lost sight of how important it is to connect with your students and to take the time to get to know them - especially the ones that are quiet. They often become the brightest stars when shown a little faith. As educators, we need to take those little leaps of faith so that our students can boldly emerge into who they are destined to become.