When I was younger, my mom would always explain to people that I was a sensitive girl. I was always overcome with emotions – in a way that my critical-thinker, creative-in-every-way, yet practical and level-headed sister wasn’t.
As I became older, I channeled these emotions in a productive way. My overly sensitive heart had so much love to share and, somehow, being involved in a sport or throwing myself into my studies wasn’t enough to satisfy my desire to build relationships.
In high school, I got involved with Best Buddies, the student body, and candy-striping at the hospital.
In college, I joined a variety of organizations as a way to meet people and build relationships. Sure, I learned a lot. I developed my leadership skills. And I collaborated and event-planned and did practical, purposeful things that were against my emotional nature.
But the reason I got involved with all of these things was not because I had a genuine passion for planning events. I didn’t get a thrill out of using spreadsheets, sending e-mails, and making phone calls. The one thing that drove me to my weekly meetings and truly excited my inner core was the fact that I was surrounded by people I loved and cared about.
To me, love is everything. Relationships are what sustain me.
I used to question whether that – alone – was enough to be successful in life.
I followed my heart (because that’s when you do when you are emotional and your heart is constantly taking over your mind) and I became a teacher. Surely, my heart would be a pretty big deal in this profession. Surely, I would find success in this field.
Yet, despite my initial thoughts, there were times I doubted myself. Each summer, before the school year started up, my leadership team required us to take a survey or personality test to indicate what type of worker we were. They believed that if we could identify our strengths, we would be able to play on them, pull from them, and each be successful in our own way. Time after time, all these tests would display that my strengths fell in the categories of “Love,” “Relationships,” “Cooperative,” and “Agreeable.”
In my earlier years of teaching, I would stare across the room at the people who were “Analytical” or “Creative” and I felt a tinge of jealousy.
I wished – more than anything – that those skills would come naturally to me. I wished that I had a desire to problem-solve or lead people. But, over and over again, I was reminded that “Love” was where my strengths were. “Love” was what I was good at.
Six years into this gig and there are still days when I wish I had strengths in some of those harder skills. Those more tangible skills.
But, every day, as I walk into my classroom, I remind myself that love is what is important. Love is what propels me forward. And love is what keeps my students invested.
Because kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.
Human connections and relationships play a powerful role in the classroom.
So, while I may have to work a little harder when it comes to developing creative content or problem-solving procedures and behavior plans, every decision I make for my students comes from a place of love.
And that, I believe, is what makes me successful.