Think for a second about your favorite hero or heroine. Chances are, they are not perfect, they are not infallible, and they are very human. Even if they are not human, they display vulnerability and compassion and hope and resilience and very normal, everyday human emotions. They succeed. And they fail.
If a hero is unwavering, never questioning their mission, then they can become unrelatable. The great heroes look at their challenge and sometimes ask themselves, "Can this be done?" Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, and all the rest look at their mission and doubt that it can be accomplished. In the movies, Gandalf goes so far to say that their mission was a "fool's hope."
But that is what makes them heroes.
In the face of doubt, which they freely express, they have a hope. Even if it is small.
When our heroes never bleed, they become unrelatable. What is it that makes John McClane so heroic in the Die Hard movies? He gets banged up. A lot. Harry Potter cannot save Cedric, and this becomes the true turning point in the series because his failure both haunts and drives him to end Voldemort's threat. Tris loses her mom and dad in Divergent. John Keating gets fired in Dead Poets Society. William Wallace dies.
Our heroes need to fail to demonstrate why their actions are so heroic. If it were easy to win, everyone would. The important thing is these heroes either eventually overcome, or they create a legacy that drives others to take up their mission.
If a hero starts at the top, where do they go?
We need our heroes to come from obscurity. Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City after years missing to become Batman. Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and becomes a king. Frodo is just a hobbit. Mary Poppins literally comes from out of nowhere.
Heroes need a moment to rise, an opportunity to shine. and they cannot be afraid of the spotlight in that moment. They must realize they are a light to others. A beacon of hope that will inspire other heroes. As Theodore Roosevelt says,
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Ultimately, that is the key to heroes. They make new heroes. People take up the cause, continue the journey, finish the quest. People become heroes, who inspire other people who become heroes. And so on it goes.
What does this have to do with education?
Go back and read this passage. Everywhere you see the words hero, heroine, or heroes- replace it with teacher or teachers.
That is what makes a teacher.
In my first year of teaching, I tried to speak to every student that walked by my room, even if they were not my own. Nothing more than a "hi" or "good morning," but it was an impactful thing.
I have begun to realize that somewhere along the way, I stopped doing that. And, applying full correlation DOES equal causation, I think that has an affect on my mood. I tend to be grumpier and more negative when I do not cordially greet as many people as I can.
This morning, I went up from my basement classroom to the third floor to talk with a teacher who turned out to be out today. I was a bit frustrated that I walked all that way, with a knee that was hurt doing STAAR testing (seriously, that is not a joke).
But on the way down, I started saying "good morning" to everyone I encountered.
I found my mood improving with each interaction. I was smiling more, even when the recipient ignored it or did not hear it.
So here is a challenge- say "good morning" or some sort of greeting to as many people as you can today. (Or tomorrow, if you read this later.)
It not only makes a difference to the one you say it to, it makes a difference to you.