Thursday, May 27, 2010

A few things I have learned this year as a teacher...

Today I feel refreshed and like I can actually reflect on this past year. I have learned so much from my job. I would say it has been a hard year. I don't know a 1st year middle school/high school teacher who would tell you much different. As God does in all things, he uses the hardest things to teach us the most. In John 15:1-2 Jesus says this, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." I think I have been pruned a lot this year, which has been SO hard but so good!

The first and greatest thing I have learned this year is that I really stink at loving people. I have judged students and staff based on my first impressions of them and their looks. I have written these people and others off because of the way they've treated me.It's so easy to follow my evil desires and hate rather than love.
I've had the opportunity to humble myself multiple times and repent of my thoughts and things I have said to other people. The result has been awesome and I am encouraged by this verse to really love people who hate me (like today when I had to have a student go sit in the hallway because of his blatant disrespect).

Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

The second thing is that I really am worthy of respect. Proverbs 31:25 says this,"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." When I started teaching I don't know what I was doing. I was a pushover... is it possible to be too nice? I expected my students and coworkers to act like Christians (loving, respectful and sinless... not that I know a single Christian like that) and I was inconsistent with how I managed my classroom.I have not swung to the other extreme and turned into the infamous bulldog teacher, nor do I always know what fights to pick or even exactly what rules work and those that don't. I have also had to confront other teachers about things they have rudely said to me or things that have happened that have made me feel extremely degraded. By no means am I now perfect, but through reading Beth Moore's book "So Long, Insecurity" (she explains Proverbs 31:25 in detail) I have learned to not please people and love them by confronting them. I think I am still kind and give grace, but I have also learned to confront and lay down the law when. I know that this will be super helpful if I am blessed to be a mother someday.

As part of this respect, I have also learned to wave my own banner in humility (odd wording, but true). Being a Family & Consumer Sciences teacher can sometimes be somewhat degrading. Culture has created this idea of feminism and because of this many poeople don't believe a stay at home mom is legit and they see Family & COnsumer Sciences in the same way. I mean it is "Home Ec" and it is the same as it was 40 years ago right? In many instances I have had to just let comments "roll off my back" and not make a scene (because honestly its not usually worth it when they think they're right). I know in my heart that it is worth it and God loves it. I think at my high school we have even started to change this viewpoint. To do so I have had to prove that it is worthwhile and valuable by taking some initiative and being willing to work hard... to wave my own flag in humility. I think my classes have done that this year. We've started a small "take n' bake" business, have served the community, I have got my students into observe real jobs, and we have served the school and teachers in many ways.

The last overaching thing I have learned is that I have to pick my battles. Middle schoolers and high schoolers will be middle schoolers and high schoolers (here I am saying this as a 22 year old). Proverbs 19:11 says, "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." I really want these students to know God and to follow him... and sometimes I expect them to act maturly . Some do... and some don't. Regardless, I've had to have some major patience and give a lot of grace by overlooking some things that really don't matter and require no discipline. One battle I am willing to pick is that of complaining and whining. "It's so cold in here!" "Why do we have to do ___________ today?" "This food is gross!" "I hate that _______ (insert food type). I am NOT going to try it!" I've enforced a rule that is pretty much Phillippians 2:14 which goes like this... "Do all things without complaining or arguing."

Well.... thats a few for now! Have a super day and feel free to share things you're learning in life!

1 comment:

  1. I used to fight the "This is gross" battle too. Then I started telling them "Ok, we are going to pick 5 foods that EVERYONE here will like. Name one food you want to make. (they usually say pizza- I ask what kind) Okay- raise your hand if you like that." I've never had an entire class raise their hand for ANYTHING they've come up with.
    "Okay. So we can't come up with even one food everyone would like. I probably wont be able to come up with 5 either. So would you rather be in the kitchen cooking something you don't like or in the classroom working out of the text book." (If they say text book, I 'let' them work out of the book!) :)
    I tell them I don't expect everyone to like every food we make, even though I try to come up with foods that most of them will like and hopefully they will at least like SOMETHING we make. BUT I will not tolerate complaining. I let them evaluate if they liked the food on the bottom of their lab evaluations. And they can be honest there. But they may NOT grumble or complain in class. It's worked well for me so far. Especially when they've signed their contracts of classroom procedures saying they will be respectful!!
    Hope you are enjoying the end of the year! (As much as anyone can. ha)
    Happy (almost) summer! You've earned it! :)