So, it’s that time of year. It’s in reverse effect though. It’s usually about this time that I would start questioning my decision to teach another year…the paperwork would start piling up, the meetings would become mundane, the memory of summer would gradually begin to fade, the novelty of new students and new classroom decor would long since be forgotten. And, now, here I am-on the other side. Questioning my decision not to teach another year. Granted, I’m pretty confident I’ll return to teaching next year (of course, this is in the running with about nine other ideas I have–we’ll just wait and see what the Lord does!)-but it’s been a much more difficult transition that anticipated. At times, it’s difficult to see what good is coming out of this year when I don’t feel that I’m being productive–but we’ve been learning so much about the importance of being relationship-focused rather than task-focused, so I’m trying to remember that. And, in the words of my dear student Ladejeisha, ‘Ms. Haskin, you’re taking care of yourself this year. You’re doing what you need to do.” The Lord is definitely teaching me, molding me, challenging me, and loving me sweetly.
To help with the transition, I have been blessed by the contact of many students over the past few weeks. I’d love to share some interactions:
- Donnie, class clown, called me to have me help him with math homework over the phone. Something he didn’t believe I was capable of-but three hours later, he’d completed his week’s assignments and actually understood what was going on. He made a comment that I better be around to help him get to college and I got to speak to his mom who encouraged me in what I was doing this year.
- I visited Gompers last Friday to check in and say hello-fun to be greeted by smiles, hugs, shouts, and questions (‘are you back?’), etc. A security guard encouraged me there-“Don’t trip. God’s got yo back. You feel me?’ Yeah, I feel you–and I’m working on feeling and experiencing Him!
- I then got to go to Narbonne High School, where Ladejeisha’s going to school. I met with her teachers who were incredibly supportive and helpful-gave me copies of books, changed her schedule to get her the assistance she needs, and exchanged email addresses and phone numbers. It was also awesome to surprise Ladejeisha at the end of her Spanish class!
- I had a student, Leo, call me several times. He just wanted to apologize he didn’t make it to school Friday to see me-he hadn’t been feeling well. Poor guy is so stressed out and overwhelmed-such a wise soul, though, for being 14. He’s struggling with school this semester and we got to talk about some things he could do differently. He also wanted me to watch the show Privileged since I remind him of the main character on it since I’m “nice and goofy”-I recorded it to ensure it was a compliment!
- Tuesday, I also got to spend time on the phone with Ladejeisha practicing her reading for her English class. She has made great strides and is growing in her fluency and confidence–she even called me yesterday to let me know she got an ‘A’ on her science homework!
- I was also blessed by a call from a student from my first year of teaching, Kendrick. He wanted to talk more about FCA camp (he was one of the three who went this summer) and asked about going next summer. He’s getting all B’s this semester and told me his reading is getting faster and easier-and he’s able to read out loud in front of anybody now. Life is definitely easier when literate!
- Acosta, my favorite co-worker, also called and left a message during class that all my students from last year are passing their Math class–something they wanted to share with my personally. Brings a tear to my eye!
So, even though it’s tough at times-I do feel I have the best of both worlds. I’m not bogged down by the paperwork, colleagues, and beauracracy of the system-instead, I get to invest in relationships on a deeper level and hopefully I’ll leave half the imprint on their lives that they’ve left on mine. It’s funny that, as I was growing up, I always had a difficult time answering “Who is your hero?”. Now, I have so many.
[On another side note, I’ve also been tutoring a girl from Korea with her English skills. We have a blast together! But, let me just tell you, trying to explain English is not always easy! She was asking about how to give directions–I told her she could say, “Make a left right there at the light”–and she responded, “Make a left right? How do you make a left right?”. She also wanted to know the difference between coming and going-for example, when someone calls to pick her up, she tells them on the phone, “I’m going right there.” There are just things I’ve never even thought about-all the funny insights and exceptions. We definitely spend plenty of time laughing and some of the time learning from each other!]