Living Well in the Classroom

Last week I found myself reading through The Community Review, which is the Jewish newspaper for Greater Harrisburg. Rabbi Akiva Males of Kesher Israel Congregation wrote a tribute to teacher Victoria Soto who hid many of her students when the gunman entered her classroom. While I’ve read much about Soto’s heroism, there was something that struck me about the following lines from Rabbi Males’ article:

Where did Vicki find such strength on that last morning of her life? What influences in her life caused her to reflexively act with such selflessness, bravery, and heroism? While I don’t know if we’ll ever learn the true answers to those questions, I can say one thing with certainty: I sure am glad that Vicki Soto chose to become a teacher. If this is how Vicki died in the classroom, can you imagine how she must have lived in the classroom? How many lives did this incredible young woman have a chance to touch in her all-too-brief teaching career? If not for her brutal murder, how many more precious children could she have had a positive impact on?

The words “Can you imagine how she must have lived in the classroom” touched me. I can only imagine Vicky Soto was the kind of educator who breathed life into every lesson and every day. From reports, it is clear she was beloved by her students. She was known for sharing stories and had an infectious enthusiasm. She must have lived every day to its fullest when she was teaching first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is only fitting that a school in her hometown is to be named after her.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of how teachers live in their classrooms. The tragedy at Sandy Hook has made teachers think about how they’d respond if their students were in harm’s way. I know you would do the same thing Victoria Soto and her colleagues did. You would protect your kids. I want to shift the focus to how we live in classrooms day to day. How do you walk through your days as an educator? Are you enthusiastic? Do you leave your personal issues behind at the school door and exude excitement? Do you try to put aside the implications of standardized testing when you lead your class daily? It is my hope you’re living well for both yourself and your students. Tell us how you live in the classroom. Please leave a comment about how you walk through your life as an educator.

I want to share Rabbi Males’ article with you, also, because of what he wrote about teachers. Rabbi Males has graciously allowed me to share his article, which is not available online, with you. You may click here to read it in its entirety now.