I am almost half-way through my 5th year of teaching, and it’s totally amazing (although how sad is it that making it to my 5th year somehow makes me a veteran? Only in education…).
This year has been such a blessing in so many ways. I’m teaching 9th grade for the third year in a row, so planning is much easier. I have a resident from MTR who is awesome and has brought new ideas into my classroom to help keep things fresh (she has also cut my grading in half, which is so wonderful). I have gotten the chance to have both formal and informal conversations with new teachers which has allowed me to share wisdom I have learned, both within the classroom and also about how to be emotionally and psychologically healthy while trying to figure out this whole crazy teaching gig. I am teaching my students for the second year in a row, which has given me the opportunity to really deepen relationships with many of them.
It is that last part that I think I am the most thankful for. Because I have known my students for a year and half now, I am able to notice patterns and changes that are more than just typical teenagery things. I was able to pull one girl aside after school and speak the truth of the gospel into her life for what may have been the first time. She has been taught a gospel of fear – she has spent most of her life believing that she will be sent to hell for doing or wanting to do wrong things. I was able to tell her the truth about Jesus’s finished work on the cross and the assurance that comes with His promise of salvation.
In another student, I was able to notice the signs of depression where it would have been easy to just see apathy. I talked with him and the counselor talked with him and we are now working to find a way to connect him with an outside counselor. This is a daunting task for a number of familial and cultural reasons, but he at least knows that there are people who see him and care about him and want to help him.
I don’t tell these stories to try to paint myself as some kind of super teacher – I am not. I still have bad lessons and I still say the wrong thing in class and I still have a lot to learn. But I finally feel like I am able to do the things I wanted to do when I decided to become a teacher. I am not just teaching my students about reading books and writing essays (although we still do plenty of that, of course). Now I am able to take advantage of opportune moments and teach them about life and truth and the beauty of the gospel. We talk about the power stories have to teach us empathy and then inspire us to do something with that empathy. We discuss how understanding the characters in a novel can help us improve our relationships with our families and friends.
I am reading a book right now that talks about God moving mountains through His people working to move one stone at a time, one after another, after another. The world is full of injustice and inequality and the education reform movement is full of flaws and insufficiencies and I often feel that my abilities are inadequate for the problems we are facing. But I am finally starting to see some of those stones move. I will keep moving the stones that God has placed in front of me, and trust that He has people at work in other parts of the mountain; if we are faithful, soon that mountain will have moved itself into the sea and we will be witnesses to a miracle.