Finding Love in Every Student

Jamie Valderrama, M.A.

Male teacher gives younger female student a high five

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.Mother Teresa

Kindness. Compassion. Non- judgmental acceptance. These should be foundational attributes in every teacher.

We are living in a tumultuous educational arena right now in Arizona, with a tremendous amount of energy focused on common core, the state budget, and the cuts in individual districts’ educational funding.

In this challenging climate, it is sometimes easy to forget why we chose to go into teaching to begin with and look at it only as a business model when, in fact, this is a career that is all about service and people.

During my graduate work, I had the opportunity to learn from a researcher who worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. He told us about a transformational experience he had during that time. He was really struggling with the immense poverty, but more than that, he was having trouble coming to terms with some of the nefarious individuals who were part of that poverty.

He asked Mother Teresa how she could stand to deal with not only the incredibly poor and maimed but also the lowest of society: the criminals and the outcasts. He said that her answer humbled him.

“David, it is easy. I just find the love in every person I meet.”

I love this story because it has very much shaped me as an educator, knowing that I have the ability to find the love in every student I meet, even the really sketchy ones that are sometimes the hardest to love.

We walk into classrooms with the immense responsibility to not only find love in all of our students but also empower them to continue to find that love in others. We are not just educators; we are climates and our learning environments determine the weather for every child who enters.

I have 200 students and I understand that I can either send them out of my classroom feeling empowered with a smile or rejected with a frown. They, in turn, have the power to spread that same emotion. If they are empowered and they positively empower just five other people that day, we have reached 1,000 individuals positively. But, we have just as much power to create great damage if we send them out with a negative perception.

As you move forward and start this incredibly rewarding career, please make sure that your foundational attributes are kindness, compassion and non-judgmental acceptance, because as Mother Teresa so eloquently said, we need to find the love in everyone we meet.

More About Jamie:

Jamie believes that a great educator takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary, incorporating personal relationships, relevancy of material to real-world applications, rigor that creates a critical thinker and continual reflection of both the strengths and weaknesses of lessons within the classroom. Jamie does this through real-life experiences that can be transferred to the classroom, taking teachers to Panama and Peru to work in the rainforest. In Central and South America, Jamie helps teachers develop strategies to incorporate science education into the classroom and recharge their batteries to ensure that passion always remains in the classroom. Jamie was named Teacher of the Year for her high school and district in 2009 and went on to be named the top high school teacher in Arizona in 2010 as an Ambassador of Excellence. Jamie currently conducts teacher trainings throughout Arizona, keynotes for both business and educational functions, and mentors student teachers throughout the state.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.