A Moment with Dr. Moore

February 25, 2021

The Choice Our Teachers Make

“Love is patient, love is kind,” as it tells us in the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13. “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Early childhood teachers show love like this every day.

As educators, we know our work is a labor of love—and that’s been especially true this year while we struggle through COVID-19. Despite all the changes brought by Zoom meetings, new safety rules and remote learning, one thing has stayed the same: teachers love what they do. And holding a job you love is a major step toward having a happy life. I know this because I’ve been on a personal quest for happiness for many years.

My life, like everyone else’s, has been touched by pain, loss and disappointment. I have also experienced love, contentment and joy. Life does ebb and flow. But one thing has stayed the same. I find my happy by serving our youngest children. And I’ve been thinking a lot about the rewards of teaching since this is a special month for our profession. In February, we mark Valentine’s Day as well as “I Love Teaching Week,” a time when we encourage teachers to talk about why their jobs matter to them so much.

This conversation is especially vital right now as many teachers selflessly put their health on the line to teach in-person classes during the pandemic. They really deserve hearts and flowers. But we shouldn’t forget all the teachers who are still giving virtual classes. They, too, are working hard to make sure that our children don’t miss any instruction. And they’ve tried to keep up traditions like giving young students the sweet Valentine’s Day they expect.

Sure, trading candy and cards is out of the question right now. So are hugs and kisses. Yet teachers are still finding ways to mark the occasion. In Portland, OR, one teacher held her yearly Valentine’s Day tea party on Zoom, with everyone sharing snacks and dressed up in their party clothes. In Windemere, FL, elementary school teachers have encouraged the families and children they serve to trade videos with laughs and encouraging words. In Marion, OH, one educator came up with the idea of sending valentines through Google Slides. Each child had their own Google Slide, which said a Valentine for…and their name. The children also had access to all their friends’ slides, so they could go in and find out what everyone else wrote.

These teachers are taking extra steps to be creative since they know Valentine’s Day is a chance for children to let people know just how much they care about them. And it’s important to show kindness, especially to classmates, at this trying point in time. Valentine’s Day is not just about candy and cards, children need to know. It’s about the gift of love we share with our friends, communities and colleagues—one that makes the world a better place.

As teachers, “we choose love,” to borrow some moving words from Michelle Obama. “Our love for our children. Our commitment to leaving them a better world. Our love for our country … our love for our fellow citizens … that’s what we choose.” Despite all the things that make teaching so hard right now, we have the kindness, patience and sense of hope we need to persist. Even amidst a pandemic, we all still love teaching our youngest children. Helping them grow and learn is how we find our happy.

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