The weeks have flown by at Mary Esther Elementary.
I've learned an awful lot about teaching that textbooks will never deliver. Constant improvement is my goal. I have training across multiple disciplines and communication is something I've used daily for years. As a first year teacher, I need to use whatever I can. One of the skills I've transferred from my primary vocation is reflection. As a pastor, you are constantly delivering and evaluating, delivering and evaluating. And you pray, oh how you pray, that God would take your efforts and make them more than you ever could.
I've been doing that every morning at Mary Esther Elementary.
As a pastor, I've always prayed for people in my congregation individually. The regular practice of intercessory prayer helps me remember to work out of God's love. As a teacher, I want to do the same. So as part of the preparation to teach - along with lesson plans, text and practice books, assessment plans, technology and hands on work - I pray.
There's no way I can share everything I have heard from those little voices during the last few weeks. But I will tell you that they reflect every hurt their families suffer, every lack they feel. Children don't have filters. They may cheat on a test but then turn around and be brutally honest about how it felt when the chaplain came to the door and told Mom daddy had been shot in the shoulder. Or how it feels that daddy is in jail. Or that life with a step-dad is better because daddy drinks and hides his beer under the bed. I can look at their clothes and see the needs, or notice that one who brings his books in a Food World bag instead of a backpack and took three weeks to get some of the school supplies he needed.
They will send you to heights of joy and break your heart. Kids do that. These kids do that.
So I go in every morning wearing a badge that identifies me as a certified substitute teacher who's going to give them every chance to succeed. And I leave every day drained of everything save my faith that God will take whatever I did that day and help the kids I've grown to love.
No collar. No suit. No Bible. Mr.Wilson is all the title I need.
Just Jesus' love identifies me.
Looking back over the last 6 weeks, that'll do.