One Year Down… or, the Sanctifying Work of Teaching

Last May, I had just finished my degree and was feverishly sending out job applications (while trying to catch up on sleep).  Little did I know that I would end up, a year later, two states and one time zone away… already missing the 24 kids who call me their teacher.

Now that the school year is drawing to a close, people are starting to ask me, “How was your first year teaching?”

It was good.

It was tiring.

It stretched the limits of my creativity and patience.

It was full of blessing.

It was sanctifying.

I’ve learned a little more about helping the students make smooth transitions between classes, how to teach writing and reading, how to teach vocabulary using mostly pictures and gestures. But mostly, I’ve learned that I need to look at my students through the Gospel, not my own eyes.  On their good days and on their bad days, during their outbursts of defiance, during struggles in the lessons, during their willingness to help around the classroom, when they laughed, when they cried, when they wanted to go home, when they whined, when they played… the one basic need that never changed was their need for a Savior.  Once I saw them through those eyes, I no longer saw their disobedience or obedience as directed at me.

There have been many nights, when I’ve come crawling in spirit to God, asking forgiveness for losing patience and begging for the grace to give genuine love to my students the next day.  I’ve been told by some others in education to fake it… that a good teacher can fake such attitudes toward her students.  But my students don’t need fake love, they need real love.  I only know one source for such love.  So I go crawling to Him.

And I will continue to do so.

And every time, I will find His supply overflowing into my heart so that I can overflow into the hearts of my students.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

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