“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. . .” – Hebrews 12:1
The last few weeks have caused me to question almost everything I thought knew about teaching, learning, and leadership. I’ve questioned myself, and I’ve questioned the world I’m navigating with students. Don’t get me wrong, we should constantly question the ‘why’ behind what we do, but it is quite unpleasant to question the foundation of that which you have dedicated your life to doing. So I decided to do what I always do when I find myself in one of these moments—go for a run. And in between the rhythm of my heartbeat and the rhythm of the bass, I was reminded of true foundation of why I do what I do.
A little over a month ago, my school said goodbye to a giant, a woman who dedicated over twenty years of her life to one school, one community, one race--the same race that I’m running today. And in thinking about her, I was reminded of each of the other ‘witnesses’ who did the work of running the race before me. In moments of frustration, it’s easy to lose perspective. It’s easy to forget that the call to do the work and the struggles that accompany it are not new. It's the same call answered by those that saw brown bodies spat upon and cursed for daring to ask for what was theirs; those that had homes bombed and lives taken for daring to read the written word. We walk in the footsteps and under the gaze of those who have gone before us, beside those who are navigating the journey with us, and before the next generation of runners occupying the seats in our classrooms.
So, if you find yourself like me—questioning, look to those witnesses who have gone before us. The teacher that showed you the impact one teacher can have on a student’s life. The teacher that made Friday’s bittersweet and Monday’s a little brighter. The teacher that believed every student deserved a shot, a chance to be his or her full self. Those that came before for us ran in the manner they did because they knew that the race is bigger than any one person. They realized that it’s not about seeing the end of the race, it’s about what happens when you hand off to the next runner.
Run the race set before you with endurance, because one day we shall move from runners to witnesses.