Last semester, one of my students, in writing to thank me (after the grades were all in), said that I was a natural at this teaching thing. To me, that was the highest compliment I could receive, 1) because this student is probably the most opposite from me, politically, as any I’ve ever taught, 2) because I’m not a natural and work really hard at teaching – so that I made it look natural was amazing and 3) because it’s what I love to do.
Yesterday, at the pool where Mia, my 5-year-old, takes swim lessons, I ran into a student from last semester. I introduced Mia to Sheetal by saying, “Mia, this is one of my kids that I teach.” Mia took one look at this obviously grown woman with children older than herself, and said, “Yeah, right!” I chatted a bit with my “kid” and we left. Teaching makes connections.
I’m currently in the middle of reading several books, simultaneously, some for my own personal enjoyment, some I think might help with blog inspiration and some because I’m planning on teaching Sunday School in June. I’m slated to teach that SS class and lead a Bible Study in September. Teaching means commitments.
My schedule right now looks like: Teach, write tests, grade, read for Sunday School class, prepare lessons, write syllabus for next class, teach, grade, read, teach, grade, read, teach, grade, read. In my reading, I happen upon James again. I memorized the book of James once – I quoted the book daily. I went to Nationals Bible Quiz; I quizzed; we won. I love the Book of James. James 3:1, “not many of you should be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly.” Dang, James! No wonder Martin Luther wanted to oust that book from the Bible 😉 I don’t want to be judged more harshly for acting out my calling. Teaching is challenging.
A facebook friend posted a study. This Chronicle of Higher Education study found that young, female professors catch more student incivility than older, maler profs. They are more likely to see students texting in classs, more inpertinent questions, are seen as less confident (I wonder why!) and are thus targets forstudents’ undermining behavior. Does it work that way in the Church, too? Are students in Sunday School class, or in the Church, less civil to teachers they perceive as too young to have wisdom?what about pastors? Teaching requires civility.
I was challenged by the Book of James this week, not just 3:1, but James 1:26-27 “If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. ” I keep letting my tongue get stained by engaging where it should let go. Back in James 3, he talks more about the tongue, THAT’s why teachers should beware, because what comes out of their mouths is subject to ridicule. David dealt with that, too, “All day long, they twist my words; they are plotting to do me harm; they conspire, they lurk; they watch my steps;” in this Psalm, David laments what I have begun to lament – Teaching is a calling, and if I don’t teach, then I’m not listening to the call, but it’s not the easiest calling in the world. Teaching invites criticism. Teaching teaches criticism. Teaching takes criticism and reflects.