When I was in the classroom, people would often ask me “why did you become a teacher?” What an impossible question, like asking someone why did you have children? or why did you fall in love? The answer had something to do with wanting
to honor my animal body
to honor story and stories
to honor the beauty in others.
I wanted to make something whole.
Hearing the word teacher, my animal body still responds with exultation. A gate swings open inside; answers gather readily like calves with bells around their necks. Yet at my school’s first retreat the summer before I started teaching, I could only answer this question obliquely: I became a teacher “to show kids things.” For a long time I could not articulate what it was I wanted to show my students.
And then, from the poet Rita Dove, my answer:
I would like to remind people that we have an interior life- even if we don’t talk about it because it’s not expedient, because it’s not cool, because it’s potentially embarrassing- and without that interior life, we are shells, we are nothing.