A drizzle falls steadily outside our classroom, the dark grey sky looms above. The drops land on the windows, sliding down the glass panes in fine streaks.
Unlike most teachers, I happen to love rainy days at school. We keep the main lights dimmed, turn on our soft lamps, and keep the room at a perfect temperature. A certain coziness permeates the atmosphere as the the sound of rain blends evenly with the soft Chassidic melodies playing throughout our classroom.
For us, wet weather means indoor recess for the day.
As we transition the class from lunch to indoor play, I settle down on the main rug in the classroom — the perfect place to observe.
Naturally, a crowd of students congregate around me — you are one of them. You and I get lost in a relaxed conversation about how our day is going. After we chat loosely for a bit, you get quiet and rest your eyes on me.
“Morah,” you begin after a few silent seconds, “Why did you be a teacher?”
I refrain from correcting your grammar — for some reason it infuses the question with a pure innocence only a child like you possesses.
“Oh boy,” I reply with a grin. “That’s a tough question. Can I take a second to think before answering?”
You bop your head up and down, grinning all the while, giving me permission to reflect.
The truth is, although I laughed when I heard your question, inside, my stomach did a flip and my heart started to beat faster.
Why do I ‘be’ a teacher?
You see, it’s a loaded question, my love, and you are not the first person to ask me that. As a matter of fact, I ask myself that often.
Some days I ask myself that question out of anger:
“Seriously, Inbal. Why on earth did you choose this career? You are better off with a job that doesn’t require refinement or patience- qualities you majorly lack.”
Some days, that question sits in my mind amongst a puddle of doubt:
“Inbal, are you sure you made the right choice, being a teacher? Perhaps pursuing a career in art and fashion better fits your abilities…”
And then there are days when I ask myself that question, but I actually have a response.
And here is my answer, my student.
I apologize for the delay (three week delay, to be exact), but I feel I owe it to you to be as genuine in answering as you were in asking.
So here it goes.
Do you know why I “be” a teacher?
I “be” a teacher because I believe in you, down to your very last ounce. I believe in your potential, in who you are now and who you will one day become. I believe in you even, no, especially when you make mistakes. I believe in you, even on the days you don’t listen or make silly choices. I believe in you so badly, it hurts.
I “be” a teacher because I value you, value every fiber of your being. I value your perspective on the world, your vibrant imagination, what you think of me. Mainly, I value your baseless love for every person, myself included.
I “be” a teacher because I love you, down to your very last bone. I love your innocence, your authenticity, your vulnerability. I love that no matter how hard your day ends, you come in the next morning, ready to forgive- forgive me, but more importantly, forgive yourself.
I “be” a teacher because I respect you. I respect your unique way of learning, of absorbing information. I respect your faults and flaws, your time and space. Mainly, I respect your silence.
But perhaps most importantly, I “be” a teacher because I bear a vision- a vision so vivid, it almost feels tangible. In my vision, I see you married, bringing children of your own into the world, sons and daughters a like. And in my vision, I see you educate and raise your children with the same courage and bravery I pray so deeply has been imparted to you in our year together.
They tell me its a risk, to invest time and energy into a career with no guarantee of compliance on your end. And perhaps they are right. Perhaps, my vision is not accurate. Perhaps, I dream too deeply, hope too fervidly.
But as we sat on that rug together on that rainy Wednesday, conversing and looking deeply into each other’s souls, I felt in the depths of my heart the visceral feeling that the vision will come true.
And in the spirit of honesty, that is truly why I “be” a teacher.