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First Year, Twentieth Week: Teaching Edition

Tabitha Helms

It's certainly been a memorable week. If you missed on my "losing it" post, feel free to have a good laugh before reading this one. The remainder of my week was fairly uneventful, thank goodness. I finally managed to catch up, and didn't have too much to bring home this weekend other than a little grading and some prep work for a president's day craft we're doing in a couple weeks.

I was glad today was Friday. They kids were pretty noisy at the beginning of the day. I had one student go home with a fever. And one student wet his pants (and then proceeded to walk back into the classroom with his pants down and began to change in the back of the classroom instead of going back to the bathroom, oy vey.) I don't know what it is that kids don't understand about the need to wash wet clothes, but I think every single one of them that has had an accident, puts the bag of wet clothes back into their cubbies instead of in their backpacks to take home and clean. Ugh.

I had two lovely highlights of my day though.

1) My best friend and her husband had to take a last minute, unexpected trip back home (They recently moved to North Carolina, and I've been missing my BFF like crazy.). They didn't have a lot of time to see people while here, but they managed to come visit me at school while my kids were at computers. The 45 minutes flew by, but it was so wonderful to sit down with them in person and catch up. I love them dearly, and it's been hard not to have her near.

2) We had a Freshman from Vanguard whose mom used to teach at my school observing in the classrooms today, as she plans to be a teacher. It was so nice to have someone close to my age on campus to talk to--someone who's experiencing the life stage that I just recently got out of, so we had common things to talk about. I've felt like the sore thumb at my school, and it's lonely. She was the sweetest thing, and has the same heart to teach at private school as I do. She blessed me by doing a ton of prep work cutting during my last two periods. She got it almost all done, and we were able to chat while we were both working on stuff. I really enjoyed hanging out with her. She told me that "everyone says you're the most organized." Haha, I didn't know they thought that! I guess I am a little on the organized side...I noticed that again this week when I had my monthly battle with changing the calendar. The teacher that owned it before me didn't sequence the date cards when she put them back in their bags after the month was over, so I always grumble that it takes me twice as long to do calendar than it should because I have to spend so much time taking out old staples and putting them in order before I can stick them up on the board! Haha, that would drive me nuts!

This week I had the opportunity to encourage one of the parents of a willful student in my class. She's had a hard go of it, and I know has been working really hard to pull things together and be a better parent. Her child is one that often has behavior problems and we've had to work together on it for a while. On Tuesday when she came to pick up her daughter, instead of mentioning the trouble she got into today, I chose to give the mom some encouragement my sub had passed along to me.

On Monday, I had the sub do a listening to God activity that I had planned to do with my kids on Friday, but our awards chapel schedule zapped me of the class time. She turned out the lights and had the kids choose somewhere in the room to sit on their own to listen to God. Then they got to color or write what God told them. My sub said that this student seemed to understand it on a whole different level than the other kids. I told that to her mom, and said I wasn't surprised because whenever I've talked to the mom, I've gotten the vibe that she really gets that, and I'm sure it rubs off on her daughter. She seemed to soak in my encouragement like a sponge. I know she gets really discouraged and disheartened, and it was nice to see what a small compliment did for her.

She sent me an email today about her daughter needing to miss school for a family day before her husband deploys, and in her email apologized to me for not having it all together. My heart went out to her, and I responded:

Don't ever think you have to apologize for not having it all together. None of us do! We're all imperfect people relying on our perfect Lord. You might feel like your problems are worse than other peoples' but they're not. We just see our own lives a lot more clearer than we see others'. You're doing great.

I then proceeded to tell her of something her daughter did well on today. Sometimes with "problem students" you really have to make an effort to look for what they're doing well, but it's so important to do so--not just for the child's sake, but for the parent's too I'm realizing. Her mom responded back, "Thank you so much. :-) You have a great heavenly wisdom and perspective on things. Yes, you are right it is much easier to look at what is wrong and still needing improvement rather than celebrating the triumphs, even the small ones. :-) I guess I tend to be a bit insecure as a mom. Thanks for all your encouragement."

It reminded me of the concept I've taught my kids about "filling each others' buckets." When you fill someone's bucket, your bucket gets filled too. I wouldn't say that I'm the best at talking with the parents, but when I do have a small opportunity to help them and lift their spirits, it makes me feel good inside.