What does it mean to matter?
|Watch the full vlog here. It's worth it.|
Hank Green, again, voicing the thoughts that I needed to hear most, right when I really needed to hear them.
I would be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason I'm no longer going to teach is that my Impostor's Syndrome gets pretty crippling, and more often than not over the span of my teaching career, I've generally felt like I'm not making difference, I'm not effective, I'm not ENOUGH. That I really suck at this job, and that I don't deserve to be here, and that anyone could do my job a hundred times better than I could.
I'm not perfect - no teacher is! - and while I have had exhilarating, triumphant moments throughout my career, I have also found that the flipside is, this job has a million and one ways to break your heart. This indefinite hiatus that I'm taking is for me to patch over the cracks and figure out if I'm strong enough to handle more in the future.
I'm always surprised more than anything else, then, when students tell me that I did, in fact, matter. In the past couple of weeks, I've had quite a number of students drop by to tell me that they will miss me, to tell me how I've impacted their lives and how they were really glad to have been in my class at some point in their high school career.
It blew me away every single time.
Like I said, I'm not perfect. I didn't always do things well, but I can promise that I was always well-intentioned. Some students I got along with horribly, while others ended up becoming my friends. I'm never going to be one of those teachers who gets a book deal and a Hallmark Channel biopic, but I can confidently look back and say that I've changed some kids' perspectives on important things. Or at the very least, I helped some kids find books/films/other media that they now love, that they wouldn't have sought out on their own.
These are not huge things that will change the course of human history. In the grand scheme of things, my ten years of teaching high school English will not matter to the universe. _I_ will not matter to the universe.
But to the many students (and adults!) I've cared about and interacted with over the years, I like to think that I've mattered. And this is what I will hold on to as I figure out the next part of my life, whether that involves returning to the classroom or not.