Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I recently received an e-mail from a friend asking about teaching High School. She was asking for advice. I started by giving practical advice and then told her of the journey I've walked the first half of my year. I felt compelled to share it with those who still are faithful readers.

So, a teacher, huh? My best advice I can give is to start looking now. You are really going to want to start getting your name out now. What area are you looking in? If it's a high-populated area, then the competition is going to be tougher. Take your resume and have Tom in Career Development beef it up. Schedule several meetings with him because you want your resume to look amazing. Make sure it has a bent towards education and childcare. Start sending it out and make sure you keep track of where you sent it. I made a spreadsheet of where and when I sent it off, further communication, etc. After two weeks, call the schools back and ask if they've received your resume.

I am going to be honest with you about teaching high school. It's totally different than anything I've ever done before. I am up at the crack of dawn, at school before the sun is up, and all I hear all day is screams and much talking. As a first year teacher, I am at the bottom of the totem pole. All I hear is criticism; and I have to smile and agree. It's a constant struggle to keep up with grading and a perpetual fight to maintain control of the classroom. For the first three months, I vowed I would not be coming back next year. I hated my job, hated the hours, hated the constant fear and feel of being the lowest of the low. Then, something happened. I looked into the eyes of my students one day as I was teaching. They were Theology! They were hanging on every word. It's not like that everyday, but everyday that's what I work for. I love that this is a completely selfless job. You don't get paid squat, there's hardly any benefits, you're constantly criticized, and you literally never stop going. But, that's not why I'm doing it. I do it because the looks in my kids' eyes when I affirm them or answer a very important Theological question. I do it because I am finding fulfillment in being the lowest. In taking the kids hearts and souls in my hands I may be, through the grace of God, making sure they continue that long, arduous walk towards Heaven. I learned early on that there's a difference between a good teacher and a great teacher; the good teacher teaches, and a great teacher learns while she teaches. I have learned a great deal. I have a post-it note on my computer in my classroom that says, "Remember that you are not here for you, you are here for your children." Honestly, Cass, it's the next best thing to being a Mom. The only difference: I don't take my kids home at night.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Stop worrying so much!"

These words are quite familiar to me. I hear them constantly from those closest to me. My twin brother frequently reminds me to just quite agonizing over various things in my life. My boyfriend is famous for employing the above words. But, I admit: I still worry. I agonize and question every decision I make, and criticize and second guess every choice I commit. Why? Quite frankly, because I am mortally afraid of screwing up. That's it, in a nutshell. How can I make every thing go perfectly, every moment run smoothly? Because if it doesn't, it's my fault.

I sit now, in front of the computer, with waves of emotion and questions running through my head. Every muscle in my neck, back, and head are rock. I have had waves of pain running through my head for a week now. I am stressed beyond belief. Why? Because of worrying.

I recently bought a new cell phone plan. What if I bought the wrong one and I am stuck with it for two years? What if I don't get everything done at work before midterms next week? What if I offended the person I spoke to just now on the telephone? What if I don't have the solution to the biggest problem in my life right now (which, by the way, is the only legitimate worry I have; but, it's legitimate)?

The answer is clear. I should know, as a Theology teacher, that the answers to the above question are the same words I preach to my kids everyday: take all things to Christ in prayer. We must trust His divine will over ours. As long as we do all things to glorify Him and His holy works, what wrong can we do? Stuff happens. If I don't get everything done at school, so what? The end will not come any faster. If I don't have all the answers in life, will the Fates come and sieze me? I think not. My mind knows this, I just wish I could make my heart believe it.

Why do place such responsibility on myself? Why do I blame myself for so much and hold myself to impossible standards? I have a vague idea.

I watch the Phlegmatic people flow through life without a care and, being a closet melancholic, I envy them greatly. My boyfriend doesn't let almost anything bother him. "So what? It'll take care of itself." How does one cultivate this attitude? Especially a person with such a propensity to worry? How can I stop the vicious cycle? How does one learn to just slow down and take it easy?

I wish I had all the answers. I wish I knew what tomorrow and next week, next month, even next year, held. But, I know if I did, I'd probably worry about all the inevitable Crosses. I would agonize over the bumps in the way.

I must start taking all things to Christ in prayer. I must learn to start chilling out, relaxing. I must learn from those dearest around me. Loosen up, and have a proverbial beer while taking it all to Christ. I must learn to start trusting Him again. I have been terrible about that. He is my Father, in Him all things will inevitably take care of themselves.

Dearest Father in Heaven, you know all the intentions I hold in the deepest recesses of my heart. Some, I have told no one about. Please, take my yoke and guide me. Teach me to relax in your Holy will for me. In Jesus' name we pray.