I read a quote yesterday in one of the blogs that I subscribe to and it so articulated my own thought that I just could not say it any better. Each of us is designed by God for a calling, and as a teacher, we use metaphors such as “gardener” to illustrate the hidden agenda of the classroom. Students may walk into and out of our classrooms but we take great joy, that over time, our contribution was to help each student find their own point of gladness and contribute to something bigger than their own self as they get older. Fredrick Buechner says it this way:
The voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? What can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north and of peace (which is much of what gladness is)? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone, or paint, or canvas? Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.
My time with my students is relatively short which gives me a sense of urgency with how I influence. Do I teach and interact with my students in such a way as to help them hear that “voice”? We are most impactful as we fulfill our own calling – what we enjoy doing, pursuing, and have a sense of mission. But students need our help. If you are not thinking within the framework of this quote, why not? Perhaps it is time to get your thinking re-calibrated for what is of most importance: readying our students for their future.
Our Creator designed us for purpose and my greatest success as an educator has been those seasons where the fruit is ready to be plucked off the tree as one of my students begins to have a vision germinate within their own soul and a purpose or calling starts to materialize. That is why I teach. That is why connect with students. That is why we as educators often think of ourselves as guides, gardeners, coaches, and maestros: the energy is not for our own purposes; it is the constant shaping and guiding of a young life to one day impact others.