As a new teacher, I am constantly aware that there is so much about the profession that I need to still unpack and learn. It’s been an amazing and challenging six months going to work and graduate school at the same time. In an effort to be completely real with my students, I tell them that I’m still in college getting another degree. I’m bombarded with lessons from them about the world and reminded of the power and responsibility of my presence.
Last week, one of my favorite students scored incredibly high on an assessment and instead of being proud, she was so concerned that her crush didn't like her back and it broke my heart. She is a beautiful Black girl with hair larger than mine and smile just as wide as mine. I’ve been told several times that she could pass for my daughter. So when she raised a hand to tell me this, I quickly told her that she should be focused on learning and growing, to never mind what her classmate felt about her, and that I loved her.
In that moment, I checked myself on the outside validation that I was seeking from others in my life. The times where I wanted a reply from someone as opposed to just chilling and doing something better with my time (like writing perhaps). Little girls get socialized like this so early and it's made me stop and reflect on self-love in spite of me being 20 years older. What if young girls were able to have age-appropriate conversations on self-love and knowing their worth outside of a heteropatriarchal mindset? What would a lesson plan from bell hooks look like for five and six year olds? With this in mind, I paused and wrote her a note telling her how proud I was of her, that I loved her and that she doesn't need to be so concerned with what other's think of her. I printed the following quote and attached it to my note, but I apparently needed this reminder too.
“Always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Always a student, all ways.