They Touched My Heart with Their Stories

My heart is full; my cup is filled. This has been an uplifting week for me.

I’ve been sharing about my book, Leading with Aloha: From the Pineapple Fields to the Principal’s Office, and one of my goals when I speak with educators is to encourage them to tell their mo`olelo, their unique stories. I question them: What is your mo`olelo? Why did you become an educator? What is is about teaching that is rewarding to you? What challenges you? And most important, I ask them how they will share their mo`olelo to hopefully inspire others to be our future educators. Oftentimes, teachers look at me with doubt in their eyes, and some even tell me that they don’t have anything interesting to write about.

This past week, I had the opportunity to share about my book and about writing at Teacher Institute Day. My goal was to get teachers inspired to write and share their stories.  Most of the participants did not know each other prior to the session which made what happened next so special. When asked to share their “why?” every teacher shared, and what we saw in all of them was their aloha, their love, for what they do. There were smiles; there were tears; there was laughter; there were head-nods;  there were hugs; there were new relationships built. I saw teachers conversing after the session, asking questions of each other and making plans to stay in touch. My hope is that these teachers will now be motivated to share their mo`olelo with their students, with their families, or even with the broader community.

We never know how our actions today will impact our students in the future. A kind word; a stern look of disappointment; a snack when they were hungry; extra help when they were struggling. We hear stories about how these actions by a teacher made a difference in someone’s life. At the session, a teacher shared, “We teach academics. Yes, that’s important. But if my students leave my classroom at the end of the year and they are not  better people, I have failed as a teacher.” I then shared a story about a teacher’s impact many years later (The Difference a Teacher Makes).  More tears, but also lots of smiles.

Teaching is not an easy profession, Teachers give so much of themselves, and sometimes, there’s not much left in the tank for their own families or for themselves. We all need to take care of ourselves if we want to take care of others. So teachers, get that massage you’ve been putting off; go to a movie; curl up with a good book; call a friend and make plans to do something together. You can’t pour from an empty cup so fill your cup. You deserve it.