I believe in Santa Claus…
When I was in my first year of college our professor asked us to write about something we believe in. My paper started out “I believe in Santa Claus.”
As a professor you may think that you just begun to read a flippant college kid’s paper, but I was a thirty year old mother of two. I was a nontraditional student, and I was scared to death I wouldn't be able to carry on with my dream of becoming a teacher.
I had never written anything for another person to read before. I was terrified she would rip my paper apart and quell my desire to fulfill a lifelong dream. Although there were some technical errors (still my problem sometimes), she encouraged me to revise and continue my paper.
At the end of the assignment she asked to read it to the class, and to keep it to read to future classes. She believed in me.
The paper of course was not about Santa Claus. It was about childhood memories of a father that often drank too much, and a mother that tried her best to make up for it. The paper conveyed the importance of having something to believe in, and my professor conveyed the importance of believing in your students.
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the day to day craziness of the teaching world. Sometimes it’s easier to dismiss a student instead of taking the time to hear them. Sometimes the politics of big business trickle into our lives and try to dictate that we lump our kids into the same standards, the same categories.
But isn't it the most important part of our job to look beyond all that? Shouldn't we look beyond the traditional and find the nontraditional to encourage and grow? We need to remember to show them that although they may be terrified to show us who they really are, we can and do believe in them.