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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hope Overcomes Pessimism


A belief in a better tomorrow, a belief in the improbable, a belief in something greater than ourselves.

Why it is that human nature tends to lean away from hope and instead steer towards pessimism? Why are we drawn to drama, negativity, and excuses? Why do many who come across an obstacle or challenge begin to feel frustrated, tired, and anxious instead of motivated, intrigued, and hopeful?

I live in a world where lives are changed each and every day. I live in a world where teachers plan, create, think, support, educate, love, and persevere each and every day. I live in a world where hope is needed to provided longevity and balance. Hope overcomes pessimism, and only hope can provide the meaning I need.

Hope can come from many different places, people, belief systems...for me hope is Jesus Christ. For me, hope comes from a Savior. For me, hope comes from serving something greater than myself, with the understanding that it’s not about me.

Yet wherever hope comes from for you, guide it, embrace it, and understand that our future depends on it. Each day thousands upon thousands of men and women across this country go to work each day with one objective in, I will make a difference in the lives of the students I teach. Today, I will give my students a reason to learn, and a reason to push further in their knowledge. Such a hopeful profession.

Imagine for a moment you are playing the game tee-ball. You are up, so you grab a bat, walk up to the plate, and there in front of you is the ball you need to hit. Just sitting there. You have one job...hit the ball. It’s not moving, there’s no real challenge, just hit it. If I am honest, my first year of teaching looked a lot like tee-ball. Each day I came to work, looked at the plans, and went to each student and placed a lesson, much like a ball on a tee, right in front of them. I didn’t offer a real challenge, nothing to push them forward, nothing to require a risk...just fill this in, compete this sheet, and move on to the next. I wasn’t the teacher my students needed, and much of that came from a place of pessimism…

You see, as a new teacher I quickly became overwhelmed with the idea of making a difference for every child. I quickly began to crumble under the pressure of test scores needed, growth measurement targets required, and the sheer volume of needs that came through my door each day. I began to be pessimistic about my ability to teach and the daily challenges I faced. I began to take comfort in stories colleagues would share about what they were unwilling to do as opposed to risks they were willing to take. I began to embrace the difficulty of the job not as a challenge, but as a reason to believe reaching every student just wouldn’t be possible. In my first year I was not hopeful.

It was a youth pastor that redirected my mindset. “You know what I love about working with kids?” He asked me… “The fact that I get to see them the way God does, a purposeful creation with endless possibilities to make a difference for Christ. I just plant the seeds and watch them grow.”

The power of that statement came from the hope inside it. The hope for a bright future. The hope of a purpose for every child. The hope that every child can be anything he or she wants to be, and can have an amazing impact on the world.

Hope overcomes pessimism.

As a teacher, hope means every child has the potential to reach heights they never knew possible. Hope means that their socioeconomic status does not dictate their future. Hope means that a love for teaching transcends the challenges that might enter the room each day. Hope means teaching is about far more than worksheets and tasks, but rather risk taking and creativity. Hope means anything is possible...and when one hopeful teacher turns into two, and then three, hope begins to take hold, and a belief in a community, a belief in each other, and a belief in our students turns into a hope for a successful school not just academically, but socially, emotionally, and culturally.

As we enter 2017 it is my goal to continue to search for and hang onto the hope we have in this profession. To turn from pessimism and embrace the hope for a better tomorrow. I pray you will join me...because after all, without hope what chance to do we really have to make the difference we all hoped to make when we entered our profession.

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