These days, I find myself back in the classroom. It’s really not a surprise because it has always been a life-giving place for me. Within the brick walls, flowed currents of empowerment, knowledge, nurturing, and influence.
Oh, my experiences weren’t without rough waters. Often, I felt tossed around as I wrestled with new ideas, sought identity in a community, and learned how to navigate differences in opinion.
What influenced me the most? Teachers.
They set the tone in the environment. They created a place which had the potential to feel like a safe space for learning-beyond academics. Recently, the author of a New York Times article entitled, “Students Learn from People They Love” wrote , “a key job of a school is to give students new things to love — an exciting field of study, new friends. It reminded us that what teachers really teach is themselves — their contagious passion for their subjects and students. It reminded us that children learn from people they love, and that love in this context means willing the good of another, and offering active care for the whole person.”
My mind may not remember all the ways teachers shaped me academically but my body remembers the ways they shaped my soul.
I hold vivid memories of a teachers sharing personal stories (I can’t remember specifics but I do remember the moments of connection), taking interest in my personal well being, and life together outside the classroom. Once I attended a symphony concert with a teacher for a club and I was the only one who showed up. We still went. In junior high, my awkwardly giddy friends and I convinced our teacher to drive us to a burger restaurant for lunch-more than a few times (I was in a non traditional learning program). By today’s standards, those examples are probably greeted with surprise. Life was different then. Culture may have changed but the sacredness of connection has not.
These days I find myself back in the classroom. As a teacher (substitute) and a student. I am not earning a degree, per se, but I am being shaped. I have a passion to influence students but I also know they are influencing me.
Who influenced you?
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Lovely! I caught the last few minutes of a new (?) show the other night… some sort of spin-off show based in the ’90s maybe? Anyway – at the very end, they had one of the actors sitting with the real-life teacher he is portraying. They asked the teacher what made him a good teacher and he said something to the effect of this: “I just loved them. I loved them so when I had to discipline them, they knew they were loved.” Yep… that’s a great teacher, for sure!
Good on you for stepping into the classroom as a substitute. I know your presence blesses the teacher who needs the break and it blesses the kids, even if you only see them once in their lives. I believe that they can see and feel your care for them. 🙂
I’m learning so much from them too.
Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says
When I was teaching, I learned a lot from my students.
#1 at FMF this week.
I teach in a very diverse community as well as in special needs classes. I am blessed to gain a glimpse into the breadth of God’s creation and hear God speak into my life in ways I never expected.