Martin Luther King Day, I now believe, is a necessary holiday for teachers.
I say that, because I would have surely been lost without this lovely little "catch up day." After being spoiled with a wonderful Christmas break, I was thrilled to go back to school and see my students and get back to work. But, man was I tired when that end-of-the-day bell rung. Therefore, I was terribly unproductive after school everyday. I went home with a big bag of work and the best of intentions, but you know where those intentions lead, and I could not make myself get a thing done. Today, I went to school, even though we were out, and finished my plans for this week and entered grades and did all the things that I could not force myself to do on Friday afternoon after the children left. I was also lucky enough to have an excellent best friend and little sister to drag along with me in order to get my classroom library alphabetized and back in order. That was something that I'd been pushing to the bottom of the teacher to-do list for quite some time now.
So anyway, I used at least part of my MLK day to fulfill my dream of being ahead of the game, a dream which I have found to be one of those impossible dreams during my first year of teaching. However, I think it is an honorable thing to strive for. While I was at work today, I listened to and watched two of Dr. King's speeches in preparation for teaching my 7th graders about rhetorical devices and persuasive/motivational writing this week. I literally sat in awe as I listened to Dr. King deliver a message so controversial for its time with such power and grace. I think my friend said it best as she was alphabetizing my classroom library--"That man really was a genius."
After listening to his speeches, I decided to look up a Martin Luther King quote to put on my message board outside of my classroom for the week. This quote struck me as particularly important in my own life:
"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."
What a perfect image. How many times in my life have I thought and thought and thought about something, to the point that I thought my way out of an opportunity? How often do we avoid discomfort and ride the status quo because we can't see where the staircase leads? When people talk about faith, I think the most prevalent image that exists is the idea of a "leap of faith"--jumping off into the great expanse of nothingness that is the unknown, and hoping and praying for the best. I think it's completely human to be utterly terrified of what exists at the top of that staircase of faith, but I think what's important about this image is that, although you are unsure about where faith may take you, at least it's taking you upward. Dr. King had to have had moments of doubt or fear about his own journey toward equality, but at least he kept working his way up. I may not be the resolution-making type, but I do believe in striving. I want to keep striving my way up that staircase, even when it's scary and even when it's uncomfortable. I want to express more faith in myself and my abilities, more faith in my students, and more faith in the goodness and kindness of humanity. So today I learned my own lesson from Dr. King, not about the past, but about the future. I hope it's a lesson I don't forget any time soon.