I’ve learned to love driving for the time it allows me to think. It’s pretty rare that I listen to music while I drive, unless it’s the Disney Cinderella CD, which I have memorized through and through. I sometimes listen to public radio, but when I’m alone, as I was this afternoon, I like to let my mind take in my surroundings. Today, my path took me right past one of the city’s high schools. As I passed, I saw kids walking to their cars, buses lined waiting to be filled, couples holding hands and backpacks filled with textbooks that probably won’t even be opened at home. As I watched it all, I felt a longing deep in my heart. I dearly miss teaching. I miss having students bustle into class, hearing the latest gossip (which sometimes has to be scolded, of course), talking about what happened over night, and then quieting things down for an attempt at sharing some life-changing lesson on their vs. there. Okay, maybe not life-changing, but it was something. And a whole quarter full of somethings can make a pretty big difference, especially for the students I used to work with when I was expecting Ella.
My last teaching job had a pretty big impact on me. I was working with at-risk kids, those who seemed to have fallen through the cracks. It was my job, according to the state grant I was hired under, to figure out how to teach these kids to read. Do you know what it’s like to teach 16 and 17 year-olds how to read without making them feel like idiots? Not easy, that’s for sure. I worked with kids in the main high school in the morning and drove over to the alternative high school at lunch to work with an English class. I quickly learned that the most important part of my job was to form a relationship with my students. They had been told by teachers and students and often by their own parents for years that they weren’t smart enough or good enough to accomplish a whole lot. Besides learning to read, they needed to hear a new message. After all, these kids were smart. Really smart. Just not in the way that shows up on mandated standardized tests. They were life smart. I figured that part out pretty fast once they found out I was pregnant. I had multiple young mamas in my classes and a couple dads, too. We bonded over my pregnancy with Ella, something I never imagined would happened. We even picked a book to read aloud as a class about a teenage girl who was pregnant. I remember that their reading scores improved a bit through the semester, but not a lot. I do remember, though, how excited they would get when they learned how to think though their reading and correctly answer a question about it. I can so clearly remember their faces! Oh, my heart misses that.
I sometimes wonder about my teaching. I wonder what it will look like in the future. God put this longing to teach inside me, but what will it look like? Once we move to Africa, I’ll likely be homeschooling our kids. If we were staying here in the States, I don’t know that I would, but I’m excited for the opportunity when we move. Ella will surely keep me on my toes. Being able to hand-pick everything that Sam learns makes me joyful. I know that must be part of the reason I was supposed to go into teaching. I won’t have to sit through frustrating IEP meetings, which I’ve been a part of for my past students. I will have the freedom to choose whatever I think is best for him and do it. Perhaps there will be other Missionary Kids to teach, too. But still, I feel like my heart for teaching was made for something even bigger than all that.
I want to teach beyond my own family. After teaching in Honduras, I realized that many of the teachers I worked beside didn’t have many opportunities or resources to further their teaching education. That experience helped me realize I would love to teach teachers. In Kenya last year, there was a teacher training school just ten minutes away. That’s actually why I went after my Masters in the first place. God has something planned, and I can’t wait to find out what it is.
a small collection of this week’s favorite photos taken on my phone