Students shape teachers

During commencement season, we shower congratulations on graduates. And there are many occasions in our lives, and those of our children, when we reflect on one or two teachers who were major influences. I wonder how often these flip…

Most commencement proceedings do thank the parents and teachers, and rightly keep the focus on the graduates. They have learned well.

I’d like to congratulate the teachers aware that who they are continuously becoming is influenced by students.

From outside of an educational institution, the complaints of teachers are what is most visible and audible. But I think teachers spend very little time – if we measure and account for their hours – worrying about these complaints, especially compared to the time they spend nurturing our children. It takes a special kind of people to work with these adult matters, then flip a switch and turn toward our children, toward what is their vocation as much as – if not more than – their profession. Their calling.

Many of us think we can teach. But every single day? Against all of the background distractions? Even the teachers who make it to retirement age and are considered not-so-great,… well, they remind me that the vocation is not for everyone. Just doing it is remarkable, whether done exceptionally or not. I don’t think any teacher who reaches retirement can be just “average.”

I hope we have a heightened sensitivity because of the pandemic about the role teachers play as caregivers, not just educators.

When you ask a student what teacher or two influence them the most, sometimes it is in a favorite subject, sometimes not. These are testaments to the human beings, not the course. To the course of those human beings’ lives. Who those adults are continuously-becoming. The people as caregivers. Who give care – their sincere attention – to our youth, amidst many adult distractions. I’ll be damned – some parents can’t even do that well or always.

Perhaps life-long educators are born. But,… I suspect most – and the best – teachers are also the best learners. The ones who are influenced and shaped by the very students they care for. A constant dynamic is occurring in their souls and hearts as they interact with precious human beings during tender years through which they too once passed – lessons they are perpetually open to. Credit to their openness.

I hope to be perpetually open to learning and shaping by young people. With zero doubt, the teachers who have influenced me most by far are named Joseph, Gabriel, and Noah. My 3 sons, autonomous human beings who are separate from me and keep choosing freely to attach to me. Teaching me who I am.
In a course this important, I’ll take any passing grade.

Congratulations teachers. A+ for learning who you are through the gifts of other human beings. All enormous.

Neil D. 2021-06-11

Published by Neil Durso

Just another mid-lifer sharing the journey...

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