Saying Yes to Your Calling

The best way to relate to your students is to show that you care!     Yesterday in Bible study we were talking about how we all have things that God is calling us to do that we feel we are unqualified to do. I thought about it for a while and couldn't really come up with anything specific and then I realized there was actually something quite huge that I feel very called to do but also completely unqualified to do: teach. I know that I want to teach and I'm fairly certain that it's what God has called me to do with my life, but I also know myself and I really can't imagine standing up in front of 25 young people and having the kind of commanding presence that would make them actually pay attention to what I have to say. While I do have a fantasy in my head of what I would be like as a teacher (modeled off of my various talented, enthusiastic teachers I've had throughout my years of school), I also have the worst-case-scenario in my head, which is me standing up in front of my students, shaking, red-faced, out of breath, barely loud enough to be heard, while my students run around the room talking, laughing, yelling, fighting, and generally ignoring me and my diminutive presence. I expressed some of these concerns about not having a loud or authoritative enough personality to be an effective teacher and after the Bible study was over and I was starting to walk back to my dorm, one of the girls from my Bible study who is a junior Spanish Education major stopped me and was like "Hey, I want to talk to you. Don't worry, it's just about the whole teaching thing." And she was basically like "Look, the things that you think will make you a bad teacher, those are the things that are actually going to make you the best teacher. Every student is so different and they need different kinds of teachers, not just loud, outgoing, crazy teachers. I don't think you're shy, you're just quiet, and some kids really need that. They need a calm teacher who isn't going to just scream at them to sit down and be quiet. Like, screaming at kids is not teaching." And I was like "I guess I'm just worried about student teaching, and getting a lead teacher who has that kind of teaching style and being forced to take on a super loud, authoritative role" and she was like "Yeah, I get that. For the most part though, at least with the teachers I've worked with, they really encourage you to find your own style and do what works for you."
When all else fails, spray Quiet Spray into the air! | 27 Attention-Getters For Quieting A Noisy Classroom
LOL, if only I could actually spray my kids with water
to get them to shut up...Nowadays, I'd get some parent
calling the principal and saying I was "abusing" their kid.
     We talked about race and teaching and how we're so aware of the whole young-white-female teacher comes into an inner-city classroom full of all black or Latino students and how there are so many stereotypes surrounding that whole image and how we're so afraid of coming across as being some "savior", as if these kids need saving because they're living in poverty or have experienced oppression. I mean, I could name half a dozen movies that have taken that whole theme as their main plot line (The Blind Side, Freedom Writers, Half Nelson, Take the Lead, etc.) While these movies do have redeeming qualities and nuances and are generally feel-good and uplifting, etc., they just perpetuate the savior complex theme. But Maria's point was that if we don't have that mindset we won't portray the characteristics of a teacher who thinks that way, and the students will recognize and respect that.
     We talked about the "teacher type" and Maria was like "Yeah, I'm aware that I do have some "teacher type" qualities, like I'm loud and kind of crazy, but I really don't want to fall into that type, because those were the teachers that I got so tired of in high school. It's refreshing to have teachers who aren't the teacher type."
     The whole conversation was just really encouraging and when I got back to my dorm I have no idea why but I wanted to watch a middle school teacher giving a lesson, just to see if I could actually picture myself in that position, and I stumbled across a middle school history and English teacher who is also a Christian and she basically just talked about the challenges of teaching, what she wished she knew as a first-year teacher, why she loves middle schoolers, and did a "day in the life of a teacher" video (among other things). Watching her videos made me realize yet again just how much work being a teacher is and how if you're not INCREDIBLY passionate about your job and your students, you will be MISERABLE. If you're teaching because you like feeling in control, or can't wait to have summers off for the rest of your life, or think that kids are easy.........please, go find another profession. Most of the time, you will not be in control. You will spend your summers working, taking care of your own kids, attending teacher training and school board meetings, and getting ready for the next year. Kids are NOT easy. They are super smart, super sassy, and SUPER complex. They come to school every day with the weight of their worlds on their shoulders and they can't just lay that down so you can cram some William Carlos Williams into their heads.
TEACHING AND LEARNING CHALKBOARD QUOTES -     What all of this boils down to is that most of the time, we aren't called to something because we are most capable or knowledgeable or experienced. We are called to something because through that something, we will make this world better. I won't be the best teacher. I just won't. But maybe I'll be the teacher one shy, nerdy girl can identify with and look up to. Maybe I'm called to teach just to prove to young kids that you don't have to be a certain "type" to do anything. If a painfully shy person who fears public speaking can get up in front of 25 staring, judging eyes, well then, why shouldn't someone who has dyslexia be able to teach reading? Why shouldn't someone who has a speech impediment be able to be a speech therapist? Why shouldn't someone who has social anxiety be able to be a politician? If you feel called to something, that's not an accident, and you shouldn't let any of your perceived weaknesses make you think you are unqualified.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

-SE Wagner


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