Can I see my grade in your class? And can I get makeup work to bring it up?
Do I really have to tuck in my shirt?
What’s the purpose of this SAT question? What if I don’t want to go to college?
Do I really have to go to history class? Can’t I just stay in here with you and take a nap?
Did you remember to grade my journal?
Ms. Scott, do you have a pencil I can borrow?
I promise I did my homework, but I left it on the kitchen table!
Why does it smell so bad in here?! Can I spray your air freshener all over everybody?
This dress code is STUPID!
Ms. Scott, I can’t sit next to him today! He’s getting on my nerves!
I don’t have any paper, so I can’t do my work!
How many questions was I supposed to answer?
Ms. Scott, this class is boring!
As a high school teacher at an urban school in Washington, DC, my work is often…harrowing.
The volume of students coming in and out of my room, the onslaught of questions that need to be answered, the behaviors that have to be addressed, the crises that need to be handled – it all becomes overwhelming quickly. For the majority of the school day, my mind is making ten decisions a minute, decisions that impact my students and shape a culture in my classroom that can harm or nurture.
It becomes easy to feel inadequate, to grow impatient, to let frustration and exhaustion have their way. And in the midst of the chaos, how easy to miss the present needs of the students I have before me – needs to be listened to, valued, affirmed, and known.
In C.S. Lewis’s sermon The Weight of Glory, he describes the beautiful and awful notion of human dignity. Lewis conceives of this dignity or “glory” as the human capacity to bring pleasure to God Himself – to be known by God and, by some mystery, to bring satisfaction and delight to Him. The value of this quality is what he calls “the weight of glory.”
At the conclusion to his sermon, Lewis makes a connection between God’s regard for people and the way we then ought to regard one another. He writes:
-C.S. Lewis, from “The Weight of Glory”
This excerpt from Lewis’s sermon is posted next to my desk in my classroom. It serves as a guidepost, a reminder to be ever watchful and aware of the weight of glory of the human lives that tread into my classroom each day. To keep my eyes open to the glory that surrounds me, and to know that in some way I am either recognizing or discounting that glory in each interaction I have with those lives.
It is a heavy burden indeed.
And yet, I hear these words echoing as well –
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Teach us, Rabbi.