At the end of this week, I’m leaving Westminster, my school of 23 years to pursue a phenomenal opportunity for my family and me at the Hawken School in Cleveland, OH. As you can imagine, my farewells this past week and now into my last have been both bitter and sweet. In an attempt to craft a fitting acknowledgement for the gratitude and respect for all I have learned here, I penned a Teacher’s Prayer inspired by a prayer accredited to and adapted by Mother Teresa. I hope you find something of value in it.
A Teacher’s Prayer
My students are often scared they’re not going to understand. They fear failure and disappointment. Even when they hold back, help me continue to encourage and challenge them anyway.
Sometimes my students don’t do all they can to maximize their learning. Help me continue to meet them where they are anyway.
Some of my students don’t care for my classes’ content and my lessons might not be well received. Help me continue to be passionate about every moment anyway.
Students sometimes ask questions I believe have already been answered. Help me continue to always address them with deep respect anyway.
Sometimes none of the explanations I know make an idea stick. Even when I already may have offered enough, help me continue to graciously find another approach anyway.
If my lessons break free from where I’ve planned, some may not be able to keep up, and others may outrun me or even catch me in a mistake. Help me continue to always take chances and run with them anyway.
Even when I think I know every connection and approach a student might offer, help me continue to listen to every “new” idea as if it were the best insight any person has ever made, because to the one brave enough to share, it was.
New technologies and teaching ideas threaten how and what I teach; new tools may force me to redevelop or abandon favorite lessons I’ve spent years perfecting. But a new idea also may be just what I need to reach someone who’s been beyond my grasp, so help me continue to embrace innovation anyway.
I sometimes despair I won’t be able to reach the ambitious goals I set for my students or me. Even though I will sometimes fall short, help me continue to be ambitious anyway.
Grant me strength to give more than I think I have, determination to overcome what I didn’t think I could achieve, a love deeper than I believe exists, a hunger to make the world a better place even if only in a small way and against all odds, grace to learn from my inevitable mistakes, and courage to never fear growth. After all, that’s what we’ve always asked of our students anyway. Amen.
I leave you with a favorite song: Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance.