Friday, May 27, 2005

Reflections on the last day of school.

In my masters program last year, reflections were big. We had to reflect on our course work; we had to reflect on our student teaching; we had to reflect on what kind of teacher we wanted to become; we had to reflect on what we still wanted to learn and know. As you might imagine, I came to rather loathe this prescribed reflection. It became as meaningful an activity as those role plays we had to do back in girl scouts. I'll reflect on what I want to, when I want to, and maybe not ever, thank you very much. I process things as they happen and want to move forward; please don't make me pause to think about what has transpired when I'm ready for the next thing.

But here I am on the last day of school, and I suppose I can't help but reflect on these last 10 months of English teaching. I am so excited that school will be out this afternoon, but it really doesn't feel as if anything will be over. I think that's because life is not over for the 100 students I had this year--they will, I hope, go right on living through the summer and into the next year and into the future. And I probably won't see many of them again. And so the questions begin: did they learn anything this year? Will they remember anything good from our class? What if they failed--will they make it next year? What if I was too easy on them, and they fail next year when a real teacher gets a hold of them?

I feel as if God blanketed me in protection this year. I did not have any problem students, though my students certainly had their share of problems. More significantly, I did not have any problem parents. Maybe that is because I was teaching standard-level students, and their parents are just generally less involved. But probably it was because God was protecting me in my first year of teaching, and he provided such great support from my fellow teachers and encouraging feed back from my superiors. He provided a community of friends outside of school and a wonderful home to return to at night.

At the start of the school year and during several sleepless nights, I meditated on the following challenging and encouraging verses from Isaiah 58; I return to them now at the end:
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

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