Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was hoodwinked today.
In the minutes between arriving for the start of the school day and the actual school day, I was tricked into going to SLA’s fifth floor. As my classroom is on the third floor, this was decidedly out of my way.
Diana brought her weekly load of produce to give to the kids and needed help getting it to her classroom. She asked for my help. I moaned and complained, claiming I hadn’t time to go ALL the way up and then ALL the way back down.
I compromised by telling her I’d help get the load to the elevator and then part her company at the third floor.
And then, I didn’t push the right button.
It was nice to see her classroom.
As we were exiting the elevator, I joked it was my midwestern subconscious that led me to help.
I was only partly joking.
Truth be told, I knew when I was complaining in the office that I’d be taking that fruit to the fifth floor.
I like to help.
A little over a month ago, I met a first-year TFA teacher at my local coffee shop. She was meeting with her program director, and I got drawn in to their conversation. I butted in for a few minutes dropping the pieces of my classroom I thought could be of use as she struggled to reconcile the teacher she wanted to be with the teacher she’s starting out as. When I left, I gave her my card and said I’d be happy to sit with her and just talk about teaching.
A few weeks later, we had coffee and did just that.
Hopefully, we’ll be doing it again soon.
I knew when I heard the frustration in her voice that I’d do whatever I could to help her right the rocky ship of her classroom.
I like to help.
It’s what I hope for my students every day. I hope that they help those around them. We call it “collaboration,” but it’s really helping. It’s really caring.
Nel Noddings writes, “I would not want to choose, but if I had to choose whether my child would be a reader or a loving human being, I would choose the latter with alacrity.”
I wouldn’t want to choose either, but I would choose the same.
Some unquantifiable part of why I like to help comes from the feeling of worth it brings me. The other equally unquantifiable part of why I like to help comes from the memory of all those times I’ve needed help and it was freely given – the extended deadline, the midnight statistics tutoring session, moving to a third-floor apartment in the late summer heat with the aid of someone who’d known me only a few days.
I will commonly tell whoever will listen that I want my students to leave better speakers, listeners, readers, writers and thinkers.
Chris says he hopes our students leave SLA thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind.
We don’t say it because it is embedded in how we treat one another, but more than all of the above, I think we want them to leave us capable and willing to help.
Help isn’t doing it for someone. Help is doing for someone.
Help is not telling a runner to sit down so you can finish the race for him. Help is handing them the cup of water and telling them to keep running.