Random comment during a lesson on transformations
L.: “Mm mister, you smell good!”
Fact #1: I have now taught for almost three times as many hours as I taught at Institute.
Fact #2: Preparing for two classes (or in teacher lingo, having “two preps”) is exhausting.
Fact #3: High school seniors are still children. Case in point: the mere mention of poop (in relation to algebraic functions… don’t ask) in my fourth block on Wednesday sent the kids into hysterics. Even after settling down, there were random outbursts of laughter for the remainder of the 100-minute block.
Although I don’t know if I pushed myself as hard as I could have during high school and college, I think I can safely say that I labored pretty diligently and experienced my fair share of all-nighter-inducing work, from papers to problem sets to a thirty-page thesis. But nothing that I have ever done compares to the demands of full-time teaching. Every day is an exercise in endurance: from six in the morning to midnight, with the exception of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the occasional quick run, teaching is the only thing on my mind. Whether I’m making copies of lesson packets and exit slips, writing notes to students, delivering instruction, grading diagnostics, creating lesson plans, or modifying my classroom, the one common thread seems to be that I can never get caught up—much less ahead—on work. And, to be completely honest, thoughts of what I’d be doing right now if I weren’t teaching have crossed my mind at least once or twice this week.
Yet such thoughts are vastly outweighed by the singular conviction, strengthened by moments of pure grace, that this is where I belong. These moments include:
- D., my “I love Jesus” student, skipping my handshake and going straight for a hug while entering the class.
- G., after a moment of reflection while staring around at the different college pennants, declaring, “You know, I’m really inspired by this classroom.”
- F., the lone and struggling freshman in one of my Math Lab blocks, discovering that he was the Student of the Week and almost leaping out of his seat with excitement.
- Spending some time in the Word during my unassigned block today and coming across the following passage: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58)
I may not be the most pleasant person to be around in the morning (as my roommate can attest to). I may not be completely functional by late afternoon. I may sometimes verbalize my doubts about whether I can teach my students everything they need to learn to succeed in the future. But through all of this, I am grateful and joyous that God has called me to do this work, that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me, that He is not unjust to overlook my work and the love that I show in His name.
In unrelated news, I still haven’t blown up the kitchen or cooked anything inedible. Keep in mind that last summer in New York, I tried cooking for three days before resorting to eating out for the remainder of the summer. Granted, I haven’t tried anything ambitious or time-intensive, so maybe this isn’t a big accomplishment. But I’m hoping to attempt either Korean or Italian (real Italian, not spaghetti) this weekend as a reward to myself for getting through two weeks, so wish me luck.
And as a parting note, to keep things in perspective, here’s a song that I’ve had on repeat for the last couple days: