Wow, I picked a timely issue when I decided to write today’s post. I have been sitting on this idea for almost a month, and I thought today would be a great day to write it. When I looked up red pandas to get a little more background information, this news story about a Red Panda that escaped from the National Zoo that was found today!
Anyway, the Red Panda.
I have been interested in red pandas ever since I was a kid and heard about them and saw one for the first time at, of all places, the National Zoo in Washington, DC. I really wanted to see the giant pandas that day, but Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling were in their buildings and did not come out that day. My attention was brought to the red pandas. I first I thought that they might be related to the panda bears, so I was excited. That excitement waned when my dad read that they were not even bears but were actually more like the Chinese raccoon (because they are related to the raccoon and found primarily in China).
I was disappointed, but the red panda has stuck with me since that day. I, like a lot of people, first heard the name red panda and thought it was a panda bear. It turns out, according to Wikipedia, that the “panda” in the red panda’s name is from the word in the language of Nepal for “eater of bamboo.” In terms of word meanings, the giant panda and red panda are related, but not else. I was confused and let down by the red panda because of this.
In the years since, I have grown to become affectionate for red pandas. I have learned more about them and I have come to see that they are amazing animals. They are beautiful, rare, and kind of fun to watch (when they are not sleeping…which the ones at the zoo where I live do a lot of). They have an interesting history and background, and they are a just cool animal…even if their name is misleading.
I share all of this, because we teachers are red pandas. So many people confuse and misunderstand what we do and who we are. People here the name “teacher,” and they immediately think of teachers they have had in the past or the picture of teachers on TV, in movies, or on the news. None of these media sources, or even memories of school years past, are an accurate picture of who we are today and what we do (and have to put up with). It is hard to truly understand teachers and teaching until you walk a few thousand miles in our shoes.
Teacher, you are the Red Panda. People may not understand you, but that is okay with you. You are still an amazing and special creature. You do what you do, and you do it well, no matter what other people think! You are the Red Panda of the human world, and you wear that with pride.
Teacher Red Panda, be proud of who you are. Be proud of what you do. Don’t take the misunderstanding of teaching to heart. Help people understand. They will come to see how awesome you are!
You are awesome! So awesome! You are believed in and you are special. You make a difference and you are changing the future! Keep on teaching, Teacher!