May the words of my
mouth and the meditations
of my heart,
be acceptable in Thy sight.
Oh Lord, my strength and
Where to start? Some months back my good friend Grace Leaf
asked if I would do a Ted Talks on Passion in Motion, specifically
how I feel about teaching. I came up with a title..."Love in the Classroom!"
At the time I said "Yes!" to Grace, I really had no idea, and I mean NO idea, what I had truly said yes to. Since I dearly love Grace, and she had asked, I just couldn't say.."Well, I'm really busy." She already knows that. I just couldn't say, "Well, I don't have much to say on this, because it is truly one of the great passions in my life.
So I prayed about it and after considerable prayer, said "Yes!"
I felt as if I was saying "yes!" to what God wanted me to do.
I mentioned doing a Ted Talks to several family members. Several looked a bit surprised, others said, "You'll be perfect!" My grandson Jacob, while in the midst of hugging me said, "Nana, do you know that your talk will go on the internet and maybe 1.5 million people may watch it?"
I hadn't thought of it in those kind of terms. Hmmm...
I do speeches all the time since I am a college professor. As a communication consultant I have also talked to lots of large and small groups on leadership, conflict management...whatever they needed. These are all areas I am comfortable talking about. Quite academic and only moderately personal.
But teaching? Personal to the core.
Especially this year.
So I took out my trusty writing pad and pen and started writing.
What came out surprised even me. The story of my small hand and my beloved first grade teacher was what was on my heart. After all, Miss Ella Faye changed my life. She was my role model for bringing love into the classroom.
For weeks I had dreams about being in first grade and how traumatic that was. I even got out the photograph albums my Mom
had so careful put together. They chronicled it all.
And the pictures of me in first grade made me so sad. The pictures prior to that time showed a vibrant, happy and outgoing little girl.
After all I had grown up being loved and accepted. Yet when I started first grade, and was aware of being stared at and being different, the photographs told a different story.
In almost every picture I had my larger hand covering up my smaller hand. Or I had my small hand in my pocket or behind my back.
Just seeing those photographs brought back a flood of tears.
Yet the dreams also showed how Miss Faye had changed my life.
She loved me just as I was and that gave me the courage to
take my hand out and just be me, small hand and all.
And on top of that huge gift, Miss Faye showed me what a great teacher was like, and I have tried after all of these years, to remember the tips she gave me.
All these years...50 years in a classroom!
So I decided in the Ted Talks to talk about Miss Ella Faye
and to share what I had really learned and to share my heart.
Yet this was a talk with no notes, needed to be under 20 minutes in length...oh.my.goodness.
The long and the short of it is that I gave this talk on Saturday.
I opened up and let them see what I was like then and what I am like now...that I love my students and I love being a teacher.
Before I started the talk and was back stage waiting to go on, I said the prayer...
"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord my strength and my Redeemer."
That's the prayer I say every morning before my first class arrives.
I place my hand on the door of my classroom, and before I open it
say this prayer aloud. This prayer sets the tone of why I do this every day.
So in the Ted Talk I asked God to guide me so I let them know that when you are different, or feel different, a teacher's love and acceptance can make all the difference. It can change your life.
I know that's true because Miss Faye changed my life.
While I got a standing ovation from a big audience at the end of my talk, and lots of people coming up and thanked me for what I said and described that they cried while I was sharing...what touched me most was meeting Jaxon.
Jaxon's Mom came up and asked if she could give me a hug, and I said "yes!"She then asked if her son could talk to me. I said, "Of course!"
And then Jaxon appeared, the sweetest smile on his face, perhaps nine or ten years old. He told me that my talk was the best thing ever and that it had made him cry. He said he wished every teacher loved students like I do and that he had had a teacher who loved him like that. He talked about her and then said he wished he could be in my class.
His genuine and heartfelt "thank you" meant the world to me.
So today, Sunday, is a recovery day. There were lots of parties and receptions associated with this event and I am, as my grandma used to say, "Completely tuckered out!"
And tomorrow it's back to teaching and being at school at 5:30 am.
Yup, best job in the world!
"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old." ...