My wish for you is that you will be seen, heard, held, acknowledged…
My wish for you is that your efforts will be acknowledged in the way you wish to be acknowledged… I do not wish necessarily that you be appreciated by me, for it is your work to appreciate your self, because some day you will be expected to make good decisions on your own.
Even if those efforts cannot be graded or quantified… even if those efforts are loud or unruly or maybe even dangerous… even if those efforts create a mess, more work for me, or raised eyebrows among my colleagues.
My wish is that you will feel my gentle touch on your shoulder, know my glance of appreciation, and not just hear my directions for the next activity.
My wish is that you will safe and welcomed in my classroom, in my presence – no matter your ability, your language, your temperament, your skills and talents – no matter that you hate me today because Akemi got the yellow trike first. My wish is that you will blurt out stories first thing in the morning because they are too important to hold inside and that you will know that I will listen.
I have this one goal foremost in my mind:
That one day, some day, there will be enough men involved in the lives of young children as teachers, fathers, and mentors… that no parent will be surprised to see a man changing a child’s diapers, that no director will hesitate to hire a man, that no father will be left uninvited to a parent conference… that children will be seen going up the slide everywhere, digging huge mud holes, climbing trees and banging on tamale pots with wooden spoons in the sand box (stereotype is acknowledged- women teachers do support and promote these things)… that fathers will feel welcome at the school, any time, whether they live with the child or not… that it might be considered appropriate practice to let children sword-fight with sticks and when one gets poked and cries, that maybe the teacher can simply look and shrug, and simply say, “Would you like to come sit with me or play another game – or would you like to sword-fight some more even if it hurts sometimes?” and not be expected to go through the entire “tell him how that makes you feel lecture”… that some day a young man at a club can say to the girl, “I’m a preschool teacher,” and actually hope to get her phone number!
As we approach a new year, I thank everyone for their commitment to children and families… I thank everyone for open minds… and I thank everyone for choosing this work to do, despite everything…