edu180atl: sarah townsend 10.19.12
Yesterday in chapel, Father Mulligan touched upon one reason why it’s great to be an Episcopalian: Everyone is welcome.
We all need to belong. One of our deepest desires, Sally Vickers wrote, is “to be both thoroughly known and thoroughly liked for it.” This year I created All Girls United, a club for high school girls, because the need to belong is perhaps never greater than when you are a teenager. The girls I see in our halls are striving to be pretty, skinny, and popular – perfect – in an effort to belong. They need to know that imperfection is not only acceptable, it is inevitable.
This need to belong, and the fear of rejection that accompanies it, guides so many of our actions, prevents us from taking risks and being vulnerable, which limits our opportunities for reflection and growth. What if we could relinquish some of those fears? What risks might we be willing to take?
As teachers, we might face the fear of being wrong, making a mistake, answering a student’s question with those three terrifying words: “I don’t know.”
I have learned that it’s okay to say “I don’t know” and “I made a mistake.”
If we can be vulnerable in front of our students, perhaps they, too, can let go of some of their fears. They can stop striving for perfection – perfect scores, faces, and bodies. Letting them know we, as adults, are okay with imperfection, is a powerful – and empowering – message.
About the Author: Sarah is a high school teacher who often doesn’t know the answers. And, at least for today, she makes no apologies for being her passionate, sometimes feisty, self.