Thursday, April 19, 2012

Developing Patience

My first year of teaching, there was a much larger disconnect between what I wanted my teaching to be and what my teaching actually was. I understood, for example, that I needed to be calm and patient when difficulties arose. Unfortunately, I was still fairly insecure in my sense of authority (as a 23-year-old first-year teacher in a classroom full of teenagers who knew how young I was) and so I took any problems in class, any student misbehavior personally.

This made it difficult to react to issues in the classroom calmly and sensibly. Several times, I became frustrated and lost my temper... of course in hindsight, an adult getting into an argument with high school freshmen seems really silly, but at the time it felt like life or death, eat or be eaten. I knew I needed to be the one to remain calm in tense situations, but my will to apply this often crumbled in the heat of the moment.

Fortunately, God's grace is sufficient to pick us up, dust us off, and build us up. I wasn't aware of growing in my ability to remain calm, to listen, to be patient... in fact, I don't feel like my patience was even tested seriously once during last year, my second year of teaching.

And though there have been moments of frustration and disappointment this year, I've never felt tested in my ability to remain calm or patient. Even today, when a group of students who was supposed to give a presentation told me in class they weren't ready (after being given two extra work-days beyond what they'd planned and having neglected to tell me ahead of time), I didn't feel tested. I firmly told the class that I was disappointed, that I wasn't trying to make them feel bad, but that I really expected better from them and that I hoped they'd try harder next time. In short, I hadn't thought the moment was a really big deal.

After school, I saw several of my students outside of Lawson's. They called me over and told me that everybody had really listened carefully to my lecture earlier in the day. I didn't even know what moment they were referring to, until they said that they were thankful that a teacher could express unhappiness without becoming angry. I was a little surprised to hear this, but as I gave it some thought, I realized that I had, indeed, dealt with a classroom issue gracefully (and not even realized it). I told the students that several years before, I probably would've gotten angry and yelled, but I'd realized that something like that wasn't worth getting angry about.

Then, one of the students said,
"Well, we really appreciate your quality."

The other two students nodded and voiced their agreement.

This moment touched my heart and made my day. It's such a blessing to know that even though we are weak, God is working in us, building us up where we fall short. I still have aspects of my teaching where reality doesn't match my ideals and this moment today gave me hope that in several years, I'll be even more deserving of such a kind phrase.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! It's so exciting when you realise that you are growing in character!