As you may know, I now have the privilege of teaching fourth grade at Austin Achieve Elementary School. Austin Achieve is a tuition-free, open enrollment public charter school preparing East Austin youth to attend and excel at top universities. I intend to raise $2,100 - a dollar per scholar - to run the Austin Marathon this February to raise money for our incredible school and our resilient kids.
Teaching is the hardest profession in the game. You’re making nonstop second-by-second decisions while simultaneously juggling the learning minds and emotions of twenty seven students. It takes hours of lesson planning, printing, managing (and micromanaging), adjusting, changing, fixing, learning, trying, failing, failing again, laughing, crying, wondering, growing, and, bei - Haiden, did you lose your paper again?
And to be honest, there are days in which teaching humbles me to a breaking point - when, after dismissal, I find myself in tears after having worked entirely too hard on a lesson or an activity that didn’t pan out the way I had hoped it would. I let those failures consume my ability to recognize the joy that lives in my classroom daily. I suddenly begin to question whether I am good enough, effective enough for these kids. Am I even capable of transforming lives? In those moments that feel like failures, my instructional coach Keith Hartle taught me to ask myself two questions:
1. Did you do what is best for your scholars today?
2. Did you give it your best today?
So I’m learning to take everything as it comes, to embrace the small joys, epiphanies, and laughs of each day and to let go of the overwhelming big picture. As a hardworking teacher and as a member of the founding team at a brand new school, I have to constantly remind myself that this work (that so few people choose to do) is a marathon, not a sprint.
I’m taking that marathon piece quite literally. To mirror my growth in the classroom, I am going to focus on each step, each stride, and each mile until I can successfully run 26.2 miles straight. I’ll allow all of my steps and days and runs and failures and tears and blood and sweat to gradually collect into my messy, beautiful mosaic of progress. I’m going to learn to recognize that it’s the search for patience and joy in the little things that creates the much-awaited harvest worth reaping, both in the classroom and on the pavement. As our school continues to expand over the next few years, we hope to reach 2,100 scholars. Therefore, I am raising $2,100 - a dollar per student - because I want to impact my students by any means. I want to always be able to say:
1. Today, I did what is best for my scholars.
2. Today, I gave it my best.