The Thing about Teaching

1/5/10: Opportunity

Thing thing about teaching is that it's not just teaching.

I'm of the opinion that school's help wanted ads should read something like this:

WANTED: combination counselor, maid, social worker, crisis manager, coach/cheerleader/linebacker, hostage negotiator, drill sergeant, secretary, warden, fairy godmother, private eye, event planner, concert master, plumber/handyman, foster parent, judge, nurse, to take care of children and provide mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social education.

It's not the teaching that gets to me: it's everything else. It's keeping track of who has Asperger's, who is allergic to bees, who is not allowed to have any sugar/gluten/wheat (but will sneak some if nobody is looking, and then the teacher will be held responsible for not paying attention), who is not allowed to hang out with whom (per parent or administrative instruction).

Who's been coming to school with bleary eyes and a runny nose for weeks on end? Are those symptoms of all-night video games and a slight cold, or early warning signs of drug use? Have the parents noticed and do they even care?

Who said what to whom? Is that what was really said? Who is lying and for what reason?

Have the students switched the ink cartridges in their pens so that he black pens write red and the red pens write black, making it easier to cheat while grading homework? Whose homework answers sound suspiciously similar? Have they been cheating, or did they just work on their homework together. Or is it just a coincidence?

How can I show him that kids pick on him mostly because he reacts to it? How can I help them see how much they hurt him? How can I hope to instill good conflict-resolution skills in those who have the exact opposite being reinforced at home?

Fortunately, I have something beyond all of this that bears me up. I know that nothing done for "the least of these" is wasted. I know that despite lack of tangible day-to-day results, the Truth never returns void.

I know that everything in life ties in to my walk of faith. But really, to call it a walk makes it sound like a stroll down a garden path, when really it's more like a marathon.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2


  1. It's purposeful that the Scriptures warn us against growing weary doing good. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with all the minutiae. It's not always the big things that sink us. The proverbial straw tends to do us in.

    But it all works for good to those who are called.

  2. Yes. This. And I'm not even a teacher, and yet this sounds so similar to what I do (though yours is, I know, way more intense).

  3. This is why you are a good teacher.

  4. I agree with darcymcgowan. I wish you were Hannah's teacher!


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