Friday, February 6, 2009

My Life as A Teacher

I'm a very indecisive person. This is not because I don't like my options, but because there are so many things that I would like to experience. I owe this to my dad who has always insisted, "Just try it!"

When meeting up with my dearest friends, it's a game of Twister when it comes to decided where to go eat. We would end up playing our favorite game of "Process of Elimination."

This was the same game I played at CAL for my undergrad studies: sociology, psychology, social welfare, biology, industrial engineering of operations research? Then, I found "the one" - American Studies! It was perfect in allowing me to fuse the areas of interest into my very own, personal major. (If we can custom make a wedding dress to wear for a few hours, why not make up our own major? Go bears!)

Then the economy decided to take a dive to see what was at the bottom (or is that what's going on now?). As graduation approached and left, the job search was more than an Easter egg hunt. Thankfully, I was able to start teaching at a Christian school not too far from home. Though my ideal job would have been to rotate daily with a long list of other careers, I tested Teacher out with Summer School to see if I would do well here. I ended up staying mainly because I couldn't find another job.

The school year was different from the summer, just as tutoring and being a teacher at Kumon was different from managing a full classroom size. The parents were much more aggressive, the students would not turn in homework, and I now had an empty classroom to make homey. Of course, it was not all the parents who hated me, nor each and every student not completing their assignments, but I started dreading the Monday thru Friday routine. Just as I would tell Mother, I would tell my fiance, "I don't want to go to school!"

This friend, who also happens to work at the same school, and I got married in the middle of the school year. Coming back from the honeymoon had to have been the toughest week. They say you don't know what you have until it's lost, but I'd add that you also don't know what you have until you lose what has kept you from seeing it. Many of our conversations consisted of me whining and complaining about various school responsibilities. (I even had the thought of being a substitute teacher instead - if I must stay in this field - cross my mind.) It wasn't until this week that I began to see that my dreaded and underpaid job actually gave me the best of many worlds.

I see that I am their homeroom teacher first, a crew leader when walking them down the hall, a zookeeper when they find another insect, a nanny when I remind them to wash their hands after playing with animals/insects and before eating, a nurse when they come in with a scrape from recess, a referee when monitoring during recess, a cheerleader when they're competing against the other class in P.E., an actress when reading from their Language Arts book, a singer when recruited to sing at Chapel, a DJ when I play them music during silent reading time, an artist during crafts, an interior designer when showcasing their work on the walls, a mime when trying to describe intricate concepts, a coordinator when planning parties, an editor for the weekly newsletters sent home, a critic when grading their writing assignments, an author when making up my own stories, a psychologist when deciding who I should sit them next to, a counselor when they need someone to talk to, a secretary for keeping lesson plans and logistics in order, a librarian when recommendations are asked, a disciplinarian when rules are broken, a diplomat when "He/She said [insert name-calling]!" arises, a politician when casting votes on the new class pet name, a lawyer when parents attack me (a prisoner when they tape-record me), and whether I am switching roles or taking on 4 at a time, I'm still the same role model that they are watching and look up to.

They come up to me to show me the extra drawings they made, the latest spelling word they've found in the book that they're reading, tell me the stories of how their dog pooped for being jealous of their new hamster, that their mom didn't read the directions on the homework but they did carefully, and the update that their dad might finally come and visit them after many years of being gone.

My pupils are not merely rascals (or "peanut gallery" as I call them during Around the World) but they are souls needing much love and care. Looking back, I've given more of these affections to my tomato plant than to my students. If I want these students in my care to be fruitful, I must give them lessons of substance. Yes, 7 times 8 equals 56, but soul, do you know that there are trials in life that will come your way? Which arithmetic problem will save you then?

We teachers have an immense task at hand. Those of us who have been graced with the saving work of God have numerous opportunities to share the Gospel with our students, their parents, and co-workers. Let us be found faithful. Reader, please pray for the teachers of our country.

1 comment:

dan tsai said...

amen. thanks for the wonderful post. you teachers have a big job, and God will give you the grace for it :)

my job's a lot smaller than yours :)