Larry Efird: When you cannot teach another minute
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 20, 2016
(On a good day, I sometimes feel as if I could teach forever. But on the other days, teaching one minute more almost seems impossible. I wrote the following words on one of those “other days.”)
When I didn’t think I could teach another minute,
Thank you for the student who noticed I needed an understanding smile.
When I felt overwhelmed by ungraded papers and un-posted grades,
Thank you for the student who shared his life’s biggest struggle in an unvarnished essay.
When I believed my role as a teacher was unnecessary and irrelevant,
Thank you for the student who told me she wanted to become a writer.
When I doubted my ability to connect with teenagers any longer,
Thank you for the student who requested that I be her club’s advisor.
When I thought no one knew how much I cared,
Thank you for the senior who asked me to pray for his scholarship interview.
When I was too tired to deal with immaturity and apathy,
Thank you for the student who asked me who my favorite author is.
When I couldn’t face another meeting with an open mind,
Thank you for the strength found in a communal setting of my colleagues.
When I realize that aspirin and chiropractor visits don’t last forever,
Thank you for snow days and weekends.
When I hear political candidates espouse their ignorance about public education,
Thank you that I’m surrounded by people who know more than they do.
When I cannot look to retirement or an IRA for financial security,
Thank you that I can count on my students as a more stable investment.
When I know that teaching is “not what it used to be,”
Thank you that at least I know what it should be.
When I find myself teaching in my sleep,
Thank you that I know it is just a dream.
When I don’t understand how to interpret abstract test scores,
Thank you for the caring souls who understand me.
When I can’t seem to get my mind to a place of peace,
Thank you for a book of Celtic prayers and a can of Dr. Pepper.
When I say, “I am a teacher,”
Thank you that I don’t need to apologize.
When I can barely utter, “Help, Lord,”
Thank you for giving me another minute.
Larry Efird teaches at A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis.