A Teacher’s Job as Explained by “Hamilton”

“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?”

Hamilton is a teacher’s kind of musical. To a large degree it is a story of how education and learning can change one’s life circumstances—no matter how difficult—and prepare a person to engage in citizenship, fight for social justice, and change the world. It is filled with lyrics that perfectly describe what teachers try to do each day when we enter our classrooms. Here—our five favorite Hamilton quotes for teachers.

“I know that we can win, I know that greatness lies in you.”

By the very nature of our work, teachers are a hopeful bunch. Even in the face of unsettling times, we must remain certain that good will prevail, and show that certainty to our students as a beacon of hope. We must help kids find the greatness in themselves during the years when self-worth can be difficult to sustain. We need to help create citizens who want to improve what they see going on around them.

 

“The plan is to fan this spark into a flame.”

This may be the main goal of every teacher walking into a classroom each day. Seeing that glint in a student’s eye that shows you have caught their interest and sparked their curiosity. Our mission is madly racing to add fuel to that fire before it goes out in a wave of hormones or apathy.

 

“I’m past patiently waitin’. I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation!”

Our job as teachers has never just been about the completion of tasks, it’s about creation. Every action is an act of creation: creating a safe environment where kids can be themselves, creating challenges that drive curiosity, creating young citizens capable of speaking their minds.

 

“I will not equivocate on my opinion—I have always worn it on my sleeve.”

As Harvey Weinstein makes headlines, we will continue to be outspoken in teaching the boys in our class decency and the girls the power to fight back. And as  white supremacists claw their way into our national dialogue, we will continue to be outspoken against bigotry, stereotyping, and racial profiling. And finally, as people in Las Vegas grieve, we will continue to speak out in favor of gun control laws. Like Hamilton speaking out against slavery in a time it was the norm, we will challenge social norms that undermine the freedoms, dignity, and safety of our students.

 

“What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

Each summer we say goodbye to the kids we have worked so hard to inspire and challenge and teach. Through our careers, we will send thousands of students out into the world. We hope they will be kinder, more thoughtful, more outspoken, more confident. as a result of our time together. That is what a legacy is.

 

 

Posted by Jeremy Knoll

Knoll is a public school English teacher of nearly two decades. Outside of the classroom he spends his time working as a freelance writer or exploring the outdoors with his wife, two boys, and dog. He loves the subject he teaches so much that he named his dog Atticus and got a half-sleeve tattoo depicting a scene from Maurice Sendak's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE to celebrate the birth of his kids.

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