It happens. Occasionally.
I teach at a Catholic school and I am Catholic. I’ve always felt my faith was a big part of me, but I don’t really consider myself religious. Spending the night at my best friend’s house as a kid meant going to her mom’s rosary group, whereas I once had to ask my 5th graders, “now were there 12 disciples or 12 apostles?” (And this after 9 yrs Catholic grammar school + 4 yrs Catholic High School + 4 yrs Catholic college +1 yr Catholic grad school, not to mention 14 yrs of teaching Catholic school). Recently a 7th grader asked me to be her confirmation sponsor. It’s a sweet thing to be asked and is a commitment to be sure (it’s sort of like being asked to be a godparent, except to a teenager and on a smaller scale). This is a student whose mom last year told me, “you know, she wants to be a teacher because of you.” Heart. Melted. I had to give her a form of my reflection today, so maybe that’s what got me thinking prayerfully.
On Tuesdays the whole school goes to Mass. I like that we do that because I’ve been in other schools where that is not the case. I have a wandering mind, and during Mass this is no different (worse, probably). As I was sitting there I was thinking about my day ahead and wishing I had something cool planned. That led to me thinking about all the amazing things that I see from my twitter friends. Many of the people I follow and admire teach geometry, so I can’t really steal from them. But I can tell through the twitter how amazingly committed they are to their students and their classes. I feel guilty on the weekends when I realize how much time they are committing to their classes. I sometimes feel like I can’t relate to them for a lot of reasons. My teaching situation is different from most. I tend to have the same kiddos for 4 years – from 5th- 8th grade. For the most part, they are highly motivated and willing to work. I have trained/convinced most of my 8th graders to LOVE the challenge. I love it. I always have such a special relationship with them by the time they graduate. Many of them come back and visit often. I know that I am loved – not by all, certainly, but by enough. I know I’m not a great teacher. That’s ok. My students go on to be very successful in high school. I mean, they would have been successful whoever their teacher had been because that’s the kind of kids they are. But I like to think I had a small part in it. My organization is misunderstood. I try hard and really want my students to succeed. I try to give them experiences that will inspire them to love math, and in some cases I succeed. In fact, today at the end of 7th grade (my last period) I kind of said to them – I know it may not seem like we did any math today, but what we did is even more important! (we had spent some time on estimation 180 and then quite a bit of time talking through a visual pattern). The kids were generally excited by what was going on – in fact one of them remarked, “wait, class is over? That seemed like about 2 minutes!” So – yay. Anywho – I love what I do and I love my students (this is NOT what makes me different from the aforementioned twitter folk). However, the truth of the matter is? I’m lazy. My perfectionist ways make it difficult for me to start things if I can’t see it all the way to completion. I don’t have great teaching ideas – they have all been stolen. I look at some of the work I assign and think that the people of twitter would be shocked and ashamed. Friends I have made through twitter tell me I’m a great teacher. Apparently I’m able to talk a big game. I try to ask good questions and get them to think deep, but in my climate the pressures of Honor Roll make parents freak if I don’t pave the path easily. And really, at the end of the day, I want to come home, play on my Ipad, and watch tv. I am a terrible planner and I haven’t been caught up on grading in 14 years. I often think I would be a fabulous teacher if I only taught one grade instead of 4!
Anyway, back to Mass. So as I was thinking that I had nothing great going on for the day and wishing that I could channel some of what the twitter-folk offer, it made me think about these amazing tweeps. Many I have never met, some I have met once (and they would have no memory of it!), some I consider to be my friends. One of these people who I have briefly met in a blur of a day, but wouldn’t know me from a hole in the wall, said something the other day about how her students weren’t buying in to what she has to offer. Again, I don’t know this person, but I know she’s probably an amazing teacher and likely the best one her students will ever have. I made me sad for her frustration, but even more for her students who don’t realize how lucky they are to have her. And then I was thinking of some of these other fabulous teachers and I thought the same thing – oh my gosh. These high school kiddos are so amazingly lucky and blessed and they probably don’t even know it. They probably go to class on auto-pilot, do what the teachers ask of them – some probably enjoy it more than others. Some probably even love it! But they are in the presence of absolute masters. They are in a classroom with a devoted teacher from whom so many other teachers learn and gain inspiration. Those kids are so lucky – they get that experience each day!!!! So I thought of these teachers. I thought of their students. I said a little prayer that all of their students would come to realize the blessing they had in front of them and that they would come to appreciate these amazing teachers.
I told you my mind wanders….