I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Transforming Before My Eyes

Teaching middle school is a whole different ball game from teaching elementary school. You don't need to be (or consult) a rocket scientist to figure that one out. And I'm not here to argue if one is better or easier than the other.

What I would like to point out, though, is the opportunity to witness growth over a two- or three-year period with the students in your classes as a middle school teacher. (Yes, you can witness growth of students when they remain in the building and move on to other grades, but it's not quite the same as interacting with them every day.)

Recently, this thought came to my attention because I realized how much one student in particular has transformed over the past two and a half years. I'd like to think I have had something to do with it, but I realize a lot of it came after her summer internship experience working with the homeless.

She was one of those students who originally got on my nerves, making comments that seemed to reflect a desire for attention and for everything to be related to her. Honestly, I used to get irritated. When I would think of my "favorite" students (ok, let's be real, we have no favorite students as teachers, right?), she used to not be one of them.

But, again, it's funny how time and experiences shape us. Now, this young woman is helping to start a service club for students at our school. She even asked me to write a letter of recommendation (a secondary one for her character/faith) as part of her high school application process (and then proceeded to write a sweet thank you note - see below).

The girl I knew in 6th grade is no more. She has transformed before my very eyes. And, if I stop to think about it, each of my students has changed quite a lot since they entered my religion class. (I sure hope I've contributed even a tiny bit to changes for the better.) Some still irk me (and some irk me more than they used to), but they are all on their way to finding their identities and preparing for their future education and careers.

I'm very proud of all of them. I hope they continue to grow intellectually, emotionally, and in their faith lives.

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