Monday, October 17, 2011

My Best Moment in Teaching (so far)

Today was a long day and quite exhausting. Not a bad day, but definitely one of those days where my vision just didn't match reality. Frustrating when that happens.

On days like today, I return to the moments that God has given me that affirm teaching as my choice of career.

Last year was full of pivotal moments in my life, both in and outside of the classroom. The moment that affected me the most as a teacher happened toward the end of the year. I'd timed our final assignment of the year precisely so that the students would finish their presentations on the very last day of class, during our exam time. I'd set aside exactly the right number of days to work in class. However, on the Tuesday of the week before our exams, tragedy struck the CAJ community when a Senior was killed in a traffic accident while on his way to school.

We actually found out about this during Humanities. I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me and so did many of my students. Most of the kids just needed to sit and work through the shock during class on that day... I know I did.

The next day, Humanities started late due to a very powerful and emotional chapel--it had originally been intended as the farewell chapel for the Seniors, but it had quickly turned into a tearful time of praise and worship and prayer over the grieving Seniors. I walked into class emotionally exhausted, eyes still red from crying, and at a total loss for what to do about the final project--I'd timed our work-days out perfectly, and had no room to push the presentations back. At the same time, I wanted to compensate the kids for the amount of time that they'd lost and the time that they might still need to give up to process what had happened. I stood in front of the class, all of whom were just as emotionally wrecked as I was and for one of the first times that year, I admitted vulnerability: "Guys, I don't know what we're going to do. I'd love to give you more time, but I don't think I can--it just doesn't seem possible, given the fact that I've already set our presentations on the last day of class."

And then, a girl sitting in one of the front groups of desks said "Mr. Gibson, whatever you decide, you know that we will support you."

The students around her all agreed out loud and pretty soon the entire class was vocalizing their support, encouragement and agreement. That moment brought tears to my eyes once again and meant more to me than I think the students even realized. With their support and loyalty, I made the tough choice to challenge the students to work hard on their research despite everything that was happening. What's more, they were true to their word: they rose to the occasion and worked hard, supporting my choice.

That was my best moment in teaching so far. I'm thankful for these moments in my life. For every frustrating and exhausting day, I have many more blessings that I can think of.

Thank you, Lord.

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