For years I watched my mother take the time at recess to review, go on home visits in the afternoon, buy combs and brushes and peanut butter and crackers to put in her desk drawer for kids that needed to eat, and a washcloth and some soap for the kids who didn't smell so good. See, it's hard to teach kids who stink. And kids can be cruel. And so she kept those things in her desk, and years later, after she retired, I watched some of those same kids come through and say to her, "You know, Ms. Walker, you made a difference in my life. You made it work for me. You made me feel like I was somebody, when I knew, at the bottom, I wasn't. And I want you to just see what I've become."

  好多年了,我看着我妈妈利用课间休息时间批改作业,下午去家访,买梳子、刷子、花生酱和饼干,把他们放在自己的抽屉里给那些饿了的孩子们吃,还有为那些脏孩子们准备了一条毛巾和一些肥皂。看吧,教那些发臭的孩子是困难的一件事。而孩子们有时也是比较“残忍”的。所以她把这些东西都放在她的抽屉里,然后过了很多年,在她退休以后,我看到一些当年的孩子们回来告诉她, “您知道,Walker老师,您改变了我的生活。您让它有了意义。您让我觉得我是个人物,虽说在心底我知道我不是。我就是想让您看看我现在成为了个什么样的人。”

  And when my mama died two years ago at 92, there were so many former students at her funeral, it brought tears to my eyes, not because she was gone, but because she left a legacy of relationships that could never disappear.


  Can we stand to have more relationships? Absolutely. Will you like all your children? Of course not. And you know your toughest kids are never absent. (Laughter) Never. You won't like them all, and the tough ones show up for a reason. It's the connection. It's the relationships. And while you won't like them all, the key is, they can never, ever know it. So teachers become great actors and great actresses, and we come to work when we don't feel like it, and we're listening to policy that doesn't make sense, and we teach anyway. We teach anyway, because that's what we do.


  Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.


  Is this job tough? You bet. Oh God, you bet. But it is not impossible. We can do this. We're educators. We're born to make a difference.


  Thank you so much.