Each time Shelley’s heart cracks open, light gets in, illuminating an expanded understanding of what it means to be a teacher. “The educator part of me had forgotten the human part of me, the part that draws me in close to experiences and holds me there,” Shelley writes.

Heartbreak reconnects me to the human experience and invites me to look beyond the analytical side of learning. Heartbreak invites me to quiet my mind and to consider a child’s heart. As an educator, reimagining heartbreak affords me the courage and curiosity to look beyond formal assessments and see children for the whole-hearted humans that they are.

This is not how we typically talk about our work as educators. We too often border our hearts, thinking we ought to hold ourselves at some distance from the children, from the life we share with the children—or, when that proves impossible, believing we ought at least to refrain from talking about our hearts. How have we allowed that border to take such firm hold in our field? Perhaps we have convinced ourselves that it is more “professional” to keep our focus squarely on children’s learning, to keep ourselves out of the picture.

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