February Thoughts…

So far, this year’s been a great one! I’m finally all moved into my own apartment that actually feels like a home instead of a dorm, and is finally somewhere I can feel permanent. I expect and, more importantly, CAN live here until I leave Bangkok, whenever that will be… What a lovely feeling! This place has two bedrooms (enough room for my family to stay when they visit!) and a living room/kitchen larger than my entire apartment on campus. I feel like I’m living in a palace!!! Also… it came with a microwave! Definitely something I’d never buy for myself after having gone without for about a year (I only used the one in Nepal twice b/c of power outages), but I am SO enjoying having one now!

I am very much enjoying my class – really, I do have an amazing group of students! I’m definitely learning a lot as a teacher this year (I’d hope so… it’s still my first full year in a classroom of my own…!) and really feel the responsibility I have in my classroom. I mean a little bit about the learning/curriculum part, but really, mostly I’ve been struck with the more social or personal aspects of that responsibility… I remember like yesterday things that my teachers grs 4,5,6 said to me or did in our classroom that hurt my feelings, made me feel insecure or upset me in some other way. I also, of course, remember the things that those teachers did that really touched me and encouraged me. I’ve really been struck with the knowledge that I AM that teacher for my students – when they think back to grade 4, it will be my words and my actions that make those reflections positive or negative. I want my students to know that I really do see so much potential in each one of them. I want to be someone who speaks life into them – who encourages them and builds them up. I think being in a Christian school context where I am allowed to share my faith with my students really increases the responsibility. My students and their parents know that I am a Christian, and I want my actions to convey not only that I value and see potential in each of my students, but that God does that even more… I want to make sure that my words and my actions in my classroom (and in my life in general, of course) don’t make it harder than it already is for my students to believe…

It’s a lot of responsibility, but I really appreciate God first of all making me aware of this, and also walking me through it – giving me special conversations with my class and guiding me through them, helping me fix the times I handle things less than optimally, and reminding me that ultimately, it is he who touches the spirit and it is simply a gift to me that I can (hopefully) play some part in that.

Being a teacher myself now, I often think back to some of the more negative experiences I had with my teachers growing up (not many, of course – I don’t mean to paint an awful picture of my teachers!) and I wonder what made them respond so harshly or choose those words. At the time, with my 11 year old mind, of course, I thought they were awful and had it in for me. But now, knowing all of the other things going on in my life besides the teaching, I can’t believe how well I’m able to keep my personal life out of my classroom, and the occasional sharp word or loss of patient tone seems pretty good! It makes me wonder what was going on in my own teachers’ lives when they were cranky in my classes.

Since arriving in Bangkok, I’ve had to deal with the death of my grandpa and most recently my great-grandpa, and the unexpected, near death experience of an old, dear friend. I showed up at school that morning at 6:30 in tears waiting for my prayer partner to arrive, not knowing if this friend would make it or not, praying, crying out to God for her life. At 7:20, I was in my classroom with 17 silly ten year olds excitedly trying out different ways to wear our matching bandanas (or “bananas” as some of my kids kept saying…) for the upcoming field day. I was smiling, even laughing, in just a matter of moments, and managed to save the tears for my prep periods… They had no idea. They still don’t. It makes me wonder what my teachers were going through that I just had no idea of…

I guess more importantly (because after all, those teachers are WAY in my past! well… maybe not WAY… I wouldn’t want to age myself too much!) it makes me wonder what other people are going through right now that I just have no idea of.

When a co-worker shows up and with one cranky word sucks all the fun out of my day, I need to remind myself that she’s got her own life going on, too… When a student seems to be “trying my patience”, I need to remember that each of them has their own life going on, too. The same way I so dearly hope that my students and my co-workers see my heart both for God and for them even on the days that are rougher than others, I know that I need to strive to see their hearts even on the days when it’s really hard to look past the surface behaviour.

Well, I’ve still got some work to finish up tonight, and it’s getting late, so I’d best leave it there. 🙂

Take care, and God bless!

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