-Rev Melissa Fain-
58 As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord.
1 Cor 15:58 CEB
I’m a substitute, a job I've done for the past three school years. I’ve been spending my days almost exclusively in middle school. I get these kids, having felt the extreme struggle between turning from a kid to an adult. Those first few years of mental and physical changes were difficult for me. I get it.
I was in a math class, filling in because this teacher did not have a sub. It was the end of the day, and I was physically drained after a day in another grade. This is probably why she stuck around, a classroom teacher who didn’t get the memo that this specific job had been filled by me. I probably had the anxiety written all over my face. It would only be a few minutes later that this specific teacher would call in another. There was a problem she couldn’t figure out. Asking the other teacher in, they both talked through it, and it baffled both of them.
This was a unit was very aware of. I had taught almost all of it in another class a few weeks back. Only, I was also told the teacher that stepped in behind me and informed the students I had done something wrong. She never told the students what. Just something. It left me feeling disheartened and just wanting to quit.
When these two teachers couldn’t understand I pulled the second one aside. “I might have an answer key. Which question is it?”
Pulling out my own packet, I realized it was a question not completed, but I walked her through the question, set it up and solved it. She stared at my work as I waited for the shoe to drop. She was going to tell me how I was wrong. Considering these kids education sat in my lap off and on for three months, I was ready for failure. I was willing to accept how I had destroyed these kid’s life as the teacher was on on leave. “Ms. Fain’s got it!” she announced to the other teacher, as she returned to the circle of learning happening around the first teacher.
As the next few days progressed the first teacher continually pulled me aside to comment on how I "schooled her". She had no idea what she was saying after being completely destroyed by my previous experience, words never spoken directly to me, but still completely demoralizing. In the first teacher's grace and humility she was building me back up; telling me I had purpose and worth.
This is where I get to my point. There is grace and humility when it comes to helping these kids. Many of them just want to give up and not push forward. These educators true gift is being able to relight that spark for learning.
Teachers plant a seed that they will never see grow into their true purpose. By the time that seed grows and matures these teacher’s names will probably be forgotten. Lost forever in time. They struggle against the bitter winds of bureaucracy, and the changing climate of student emotions. Yet, they still plant that seed, nurturing the fertile soil, hoping that seed takes root.
I say all this because I make it a point to learn from everyone. True, some learning moments come in the non-example category. There are people who teach me how not to do something. Those moments are just as formative as the examples of people who tell me how to do the right thing. When a teacher pulls me aside to raise me up, I learn how to raise others up. When she tells me how great I’m doing, I know it’s because of her. I’ve been watching and learning from her the whole time. Taking everything as a learning opportunity. These teachers have made me a better minister, and re-lit my own purpose.. God is a teacher.
Let us pray:
Dear God, help us walk your path with grace and humility. Amen.