"After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection."
~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Wow. Just what I needed to hear today.
As a teacher, I seek to do my very best job to teach all of my kids and push ALL of my students to succeed. In the ideal world with adequate time, I think I could achieve this goal. I constantly have to remind myself that my job is not to come in and save all my kids - my job is to pour my life and my energy and love of teaching into these children, giving them every opportunity I can in my power to help them succeed. However, the reality is... I can't do that. I don't have enough time, I don't have enough resources, I simply don't know enough. My best laid plans sometimes flop, and the things I want to get to just don't get done sometimes. Teaching ESL often feels to me like being a fish out of water - most of my masters training was done in a mainstream classroom teaching kids poetry, for example. Trying to teach students who don't speak any English is quite difficult, if not frustrating at times.
But each day I go to school, I'm reminded of why I'm here. I often prayed, "God, please just let me teach where I am most needed." He knew I was ready for this job, despite my complaints about not being ready and not knowing enough. He knew that this is where I'm most needed, at this time in my life and in these kids' lives. Despite my discomfort, I can offer them my energy and zeal for life - as can be demonstrated today (here's a fun story for you all): I was teaching a poem, "The Fuzzy Caterpillar" to a group of students. To teach vocabulary, I had all the students stand and do motions - they were essentially acting out the poem. "Everyone, spin a cocoon!" (all the students would spin) We all dissolved into a puddle of giggles and it was a blast, not to mention a ton of fun AND they were learning vocabulary!
I know the road ahead of me this year is a challenging one, but each day I have just enough strength to make it through. It's almost like God is reminding me - "Hey, I brought you here, and I gave you this place - I know what I'm doing." Each day is a challenge for me to trust and just know that ultimately, God is in control. I am learning and absorbing all that I can so I can do my job better, and my hope is to go full-time next year, although I really see why God didn't give me that at this time. Having to plan a wedding among Jerry being unemployed and figuring out our lives together (another praise: Jerry was hired in DC! He started work this week! Another post for another day)... it would have been too much to handle. I'm glad I am part time now, despite not making a whole lot, because I am learning to budget my money and have some extra time to rest and absorb all that I am learning and doing each day.
It's been glorious and it's been rough, but I am loving my students everyday. They make everything worth it!