Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fear, Faith, and Teaching

In the summer, you can take some time to think about your work.  It's difficult sometimes to wax philosophical when you're in the midst of intense teaching time.  This fall, lots of things will be pulling me in different directions.  My youngest daughter will be a senior in high school, my oldest will be moving off campus into her first apartment, I will be starting a new position in a new school, and the Common Core State Standards will be barreling toward me at full speed.  High stakes testing will impact my career more than ever, and I will have over a hundred students this year in two grade levels at 5th and 6th grade.  It's enough to make me quake with fear!  Fear is paralyzing.  Fear can keep you awake at night and keep you from taking risks.  It can sap your joy and passion.  If you don't believe me, believe Yoda.
Have you met angry, suffering teachers?  I have!  I don't want to be one.  Do I know everything that will happen this year?  I don't.  That can be scary.  Will I do everything perfectly and successfully?  No.  That can be depressing.  Will my students learn what I want them to learn?  I hope so, but even that is not a sure thing.  That can be disappointing.  Will the policy-makers make all the right decisions?  No.  That can be maddening.  I can lean on the scary, depressing, disappointing, and maddening parts of being a teacher, or I can lean on faith.  I have faith that I am in the right profession and that it is a noble one.  I have faith that my passion for my students and subjects will instill in them a joy for lifelong reading, writing, and learning. I have faith that my students will feel loved and supported, and I will help them discover who they are supposed to be. I have to have faith that my teaching will make a difference.  Some days may look messy, and I may feel that fear creeping up the back of my neck.  You may feel it, too.  Feel it for what it is: fear.  Acknowledge it, and then replace it with faith - your superpower!

If you love the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, you can get it as a STAMP on Etsy! 

If you love Anne Lamott's quote, read what she has to say at, and read my favorite book by her, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith.  She has a new one out, Help Thanks Wow, that is in my TBR pile.



  1. Great post, Holly. And as I read it, I'm reminded that it's not just teaching. It's many things we undertake with quaking boots!

    Thank you for sharing that Martin Luther King quote. Wow. Much food for thought.

    1. Oh, absolutely, Augusta! I agree that faith must conquer fear in many circumstances: marriage, raising children, believing in God, taking risks in careers, moving, etc. Right now my daughter is in Ecuador with Campus Crusade, and she is facing her fears of approaching people about Christ and speaking Spanish! I'm sure you must face many fears as a writer! I, for one, am certainly glad you had faith enough to go ahead and write anyway! :-) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I love hearing from you!

  2. What an upbeat, positive post! You're absolutely right. It's so easy to feel like you're being drug down by things beyond your control. We all need to have a little faith!

  3. Welcome to 5th/6th grade it is an amazing grade level that I love teaching. The chance to change perceptions and to build on a strong foundation that is already established. Such a crucial year before MS. I just added your blog to my blog roll excited to watch your journey. PS: I love messy teaching.