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  • Writer's pictureKatie Powell

This Isn't About Selling Books

This post isn't promoting anything.

It won't go out in an email blast.

I won't be tagging my book title.

I'm not offering any strategies.

Tonight, I just needed to work some things out. I needed to share my heart.

We lost a student today. He had been "ours" last year, as a 6th grader. Last night, just one grading period into his 7th grade year, he died in a car accident. We found out right before 1st period this morning.

My coworker, Jamie, and I, who both taught him last year, borrowed staff to cover our classes so we could be with our other former students who had been in his class last year, his friends. We laughed together over stories of Andrew's daredevil antics in the neighborhood, the smell that would emanate from his wrist brace from a football injury when he took it off to adjust it, his bright blue glasses, the way he'd line Hotwheels cars up on his desk. He was eager to please, warm, friendly.

One boy said, "He was my only friend."

It took me a full 3 minutes to be able to type another line after that. Y'all. Our students aren't just our students. They're real human beings.

And we HAVE to love them.

I didn't know Andrew was going to die. How could I? He was 13. Death wasn't on our radar. I didn't know I wasn't going to see him again.

But I know I loved him.

And I know he knew I loved him.

Andrew wasn't an easy student. I used to compare him to a puppy dog who hasn't grown into his paws yet. Andrew was far taller than his classmates and FULL of energy. He talked, moved, fidgeted, touched, acted on every impulse. I had to dig DEEP into my bag of tricks for him. And, yes, I had to correct him.

I'm so, so glad I disciplined out of love.

I sometimes wonder if I'm too soft on my students. I run a well-structured classroom, but I'm not a yeller. I'm a giver of not just second chances, but seventy-fourth chances. I handle things quietly. I'm not a pushover, but I sometimes fear I'm not hard enough either. That balance of warm/strict can be hard to find. But today, y'all, today I'm not wondering if I was strict enough.

I know I loved enough.

Today I'm not writing to you to share some new idea. Instead, I'm imploring you--us all--to let everything we do with our students be done in love.

For Andrew, please. Love.

Perhaps this school year has worn you too thin. Perhaps you find yourself snipping and snapping over things you normally wouldn't. So tonight, find enough self-care to try to do better tomorrow. If you can't, ask your students' forgiveness and give yourself the grace to try again. We HAVE to love them. For each parent who entrusts their kid to us, with no promise of tomorrow, we have to.

This matters.

Let all that we do be done in love.

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