Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 08 2011

Counting it all joy

Overheard at the end of a block
N.: “Ohmigoshhh I lost my exit slip!”

An unintended consequence of blogging on weekends is that I’m usually writing when I’m physically and emotionally at my peak. I get to catch up (somewhat) on sleep, I can actually spend some time reading for pleasure and chatting with non-teacher friends, and most of all, I have two whole days to get ahead on lesson planning. I also have a chance to pump myself up for the coming week and tell myself that my students are actually going to learn as much as possible. After all… I have two whole days to get ahead on lesson planning! (Did I mention I have two whole days to get ahead on lesson planning?)

Unfortunately, most of the time, these high hopes don’t come to fruition. I either get bogged down with trivial but numerous and time-consuming errands, or procrastinate by watching YouTube videos and playing my guitar, or otherwise spend my time in unproductive ways. Consequently, of course, I usually don’t have as great of a week as I expected. That’s why I’m incredibly grateful that by the grace of God, despite my lack of productivity last weekend, this past week was probably my best yet. Between being able to keep students focused and on task all day (probably because periods were shorter thanks to NECAP testing), exchanging text messages with a struggling student for the first time, and administering an objectively difficult unit exam that students dove into enthusiastically and successfully, this week was the first time that I felt like I was genuinely generating transformational change in the classroom.

Perhaps the most memorable moment from this week was a brief conversation that I had with a student after class on Thursday. C. is a football player who towers over me (and I’m a pretty tall guy), has been expelled or suspended from multiple high schools, for who-knows-what reasons, and simply exudes “toughness” in every way. There are times when I wonder if he should have IEP, either for the emotional disturbances that caused his previous disciplinary issues, or for the exorbitant amount of time that he takes to process the material that I teach. Yet I’ve noticed that given sufficient time and guidance, he is able to solve every question that I throw at him. So I pulled him aside after class on Thursday and told him that if he wants, he can come in after school once in a while to make up the work that he couldn’t finish during class. He responded, “Thanks Mr. K. I really like the way you treat me with respect. You’re the only teacher who understands,” and promptly walked out the door to his next class. I really hope he takes up my offer.

One thing that’s been on my heart lately is the notion that I can and must be joyful at all circumstances, whether it’s after a really great week of teaching (like today), or in the midst of deep, excruciating struggles (not to say that I’ve experienced anything remotely resembling deep, excruciating struggles, though I know that some of my fellow CMs have). I’ve been blessed to lead a weekly Bible study at my apartment, and one passage that stands out to me from what we’ve studied is James 1:2-4.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Here’s an example of backwards planning, if I ever saw one. The desired end result is being perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, just as we were originally created by God. The way we become perfect and complete is by letting steadfastness have its full effect. The way we let steadfastness have its full effect is by counting it all joy when (not if!) we meet trials of various kinds. There’s something to think about, the next time I feel like I’m having a miserable day and nothing is going as planned. Jesus said it best in His promise of the Holy Spirit:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

It’s that simple. We’ve been given peace. Our hearts need not be troubled or afraid. Can I get an amen?

One Response

  1. Eric

    Amen indeed! Great post and definitely one that I will subscribe too … I know you mentioned that you are looking to decrease the frequency of your posts but I wouldn’t complain if you decide against it. Did C take you up on your offer?

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New city, same vision

Rhode Island
High School

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