For some, teaching is just another career choice. Chosen for the time off or convenient hours. (Almost NEVER for the pay, though. LOL) It is sometimes considered the "perfect career for a mom." (Don't get me wrong--- those are very legitimate things to consider before choosing a career.) For most, however, it is also a calling-- a ministry. That's the way Ann Hanna, my favorite elementary teacher, approached it. That's the way MANY of the excellent, caring professionals I've loved most of my life, approached it. They're the reason I wanted to teach. I never wanted a "job." I wanted a "life calling." When Shelbi entered kindergarten, I went back to school to accomplish that. That was 12 years ago. The first time I set up my own classroom, I felt I'd made it. I was beyond excited! I was going to change the world--- one student at a time. Talk about delusions of grandeur! HA Little did I know how much my students would change ME.
That initial enthusiasm waned over the next few years, even though I know, for some kids, I DID make an impact. I get hugs from 6 feet tall former students when I see them. Usually, I get hugs from parents of those kids, too. I remember most of them. I love all of them. But sometimes I get discouraged and that was going on this year.
Honestly, I hadn't been considering the ministry side of my job very much lately. I was more focused on the "not enough hours in the day" side of it. Until this past week.
For the first several weeks of school, I'd been struggling with a student with discipline issues. The behavior escalated and I made contact with the mother. She told me she'd get on to him, but added that his Daddy had been in the hospital out of town for the past three weeks, was still in there, and she wasn't able to be with her children much. (He had behavior issues long before this, but it explained why it wasn't improving.) Later the principal told me she'd talked to the child's grandmother. The dad had bone cancer and wasn't expected to live! The mom was trying to be with her husband as much as possible, while at the same time trying to make sure her five (repeat FIVE) little boys were taken care of in her absence. So, here's this little boy with a sick, dying father, and an absent (NOT by choice) mom. What a load on a six year old! Several days later, we were told the Daddy lost his fight and a little boy had lost his Daddy. The other children and I wrote him messages and drew pictures. We made it into a book and the custodian dropped it off to him at home. He came back to school the day after the funeral. He was so sweet, hugging on me all day long and me on him. Poor, poor baby. In his homework folder, I found the book his classmates and I had made him. He was safekeeping it! Awww. Helping this child through such a tragic time ~~ what an opportunity for the person he spends 7, almost 8, hours a day with, to show compassion in action! (That person would be me.) What a reminder that my "job" entails more than drilling ABC's and 123's, and that yellow and blue make green. I can teach ~show~ love, mercy, grace, compassion and many other things that WILL make a difference, maybe not change the whole world, but maybe make someones little corner of it better. Pray I continue to grow and learn and that I notice and take every opportunity to minister to my students.
Yesterday one of my students walked beside me, smiled up at me and said, "Mrs. Craft, I just love being in your class." I hugged her, swallowed the enormous lump in my throat, blinked back my tears, and sincerely replied, "That's so sweet. I love being in your class, too."
Thanks, Lord, for the reminder.