Category Archives: Work

Folk Thursday: Paul Simon

I’ve been humming this song for a solid week … and what a week it’s been. I honestly never imagined that coming back to the classroom could be this much fun. What a blessing. When Eye Candy pink-slipped me last spring, I thought, This is the end. Party’s over. I will never in my life have another job that keeps me laughing this hard or enjoying myself this much.

I’m working harder for my laughs these days, but I’m still getting them. My kids see to that. I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much.

Oh, still crazy after all these years.

Emily

Mind

“And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

I did something today that I haven’t done in over a decade: I walked into a classroom and spent the whole day teaching sophomore English.

In light of the challenges I faced in the classroom a decade ago, I was understandably apprehensive about trying it again. But as a series of unlikely events unfolded — beginning with a strange intuition last September and continuing through all sorts of job changes, chance encounters, and offhand conversations — I started to catch on to the idea that the Father didn’t think I was quite finished with my teaching career, so I listened, obeyed, and stepped out onto a stormy sea with nothing but a few ideas about classroom management and a childlike certainty that God would not coax me out onto the water just to watch me drown.

That certainty was enough to get me to volunteer for a trip back into the classroom, but as we drove across the Oklahoma Panhandle yesterday on our way back from New Mexico, each passing mile brought me closer to a confrontation with the fears and uncertainties that had haunted me since I left the profession, and doubt started to creep into my thought. The restful sleep I’d looked forward to on our trip had eluded me as dreams — some of them nightmares — about teaching danced in my head every time I closed my eyes, and I began to second-guess myself.

Doubt has no place in a classroom. Kids are like dogs: They can smell fear, and it makes them very nervous when they sense weakness in someone who is supposed to be taking care of them, so I knew I had to get a handle on my concerns before class started this morning.

As I prayed for an idea that would carry me through the day, I remembered Mrs. Eddy’s words about praying “for that Mind to be in us that was also in Christ Jesus.” 

Of course! I didn’t have to worry about what to say to my kids, or what to do if they acted up, or how to structure the class so they wouldn’t get bored or disorderly. I just had to remember that the Mind of Christ was right there with me, supplying a steady stream of ideas to carry me through the day.

The fear that had been following me around all weekend vanished, and an easy confidence took its place. I wasn’t perfect. There were things that could have gone better. But I kept my classes under control, had fun listening to the kids’ ideas about the short story we were reading, and ended the day feeling that I had finally become the teacher I’d intended to be 10 years ago.

Wow.

Emily

Still crazy after all these years

Two weeks ago, I learned that one of our English teachers was resigning.

For reasons I still do not fully comprehend, I walked into Zaphod’s office and offered to swap my nice, cakey curriculum-writing gig for a chance to teach sophomore English again for the first time in 10 years.

Zaphod said yes.

I start Monday.

God help us all….

Emily

Friday Night Lights

Is it weird that I really enjoy volunteering in the concession stand during football games? ‘Cos I do.

I like adding up the prices in my head and making change, because it keeps me sharp. I like working with our awesome PTSA (Parent-Teacher-Student Association) president and her equally awesome family, because they give me hope. I like boxing up popcorn and making coffee, maybe because at some level, it reminds me of being in the kitchen at the Rock. But what I like most is seeing the kids.

You’d think after spending all week with them, I’d be tired of them, but I love seeing them in a different context, where they’re just having a good time with their friends, and where I don’t have to tell them to quiet down or get in their seats or tuck in their shirttails. They’re comfortable and happy, and so am I.

The dynamic is different, and I think that’s really important. Kids need to know that their teachers like them. Of course I adore them — how could I not, when they’re so funny and clever and full of potential? — but I’m not sure they realize that when I’m nagging them about the dress code or the cell phone policy or whatever. When I’m serving them nachos or making them hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, the vibe is different, and I think it’s well worth the effort to have those moments of simple happiness.

Emily

Loss is gain

O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain! 
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.

Mary Baker Eddy 

This week, I have learned that sometimes, we go through hell so that 10 years and 400 miles later, we will know how to love someone else who is doing the same.

Empathy isn’t cheap, but this week, I am “glad for every scalding tear” that slipped down my cheeks a decade ago. This week, I understand what it is to “wait, and love more for every hate.” This week, an old loss revealed itself as gain.

And this week, I am realizing — once again — that God is, indeed, good.

Emily

Restoration

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.”
— Joel 2:25

It’s been a decade since an unsupportive administrator, a duplicitous colleague, and an unruly bunch of tough, street-smart kids shattered my confidence, my dreams, and my heart.

This afternoon, in a single instant, Zaphod gathered up all of the shards, welded them back together, and gave them back to me with a single offhand compliment.

This afternoon, in a single instant, I became the teacher I wanted to be 10 years ago.

This afternoon, in a single instant, my obedience was rewarded, and Life restored to me the years that the locust had eaten.

That instant stands as one of the happiest moments of my entire life.

Emily