According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a teacher is, “one whose occupation is to instruct.”
I am here to tell you that after only three days as a teacher (most moments I still cannot believe I am actually a real live teacher now), I know for a fact that this definition barely scratches the surface of what being a teacher entails.
No amount of planning, college instruction, watching teacher movies, or hearing testimony, can prepare one for the moment when the first student enters your very own classroom for the first time.
Mine just happened to be the cutest little boy…who spoke no English. My first procedure was teaching my students to answer a Question of the Day when they first entered the room. So, with a perplexed look on his face, he followed my hand motion instructions to copy the question on his paper. After that task was complete, I tried to explain what the question, “What was your favorite summer moment?” meant…using the limited Spanish words in my vocabulary. His confused smile made me switch tactics and try to explain that he could just draw a picture instead. I pointed to the painting of a tree in the classroom and mimed drawing on his paper. He smiled and nodded, proceeding to draw a tree on his paper. My next three students all spoke only Spanish, and so they too copied the unknown words on the board…and drew trees on their papers. Hey, I love nature too. 🙂
A few unforgettable moments:
~A mischievous boy tried to grab the pencil case on the girl’s desk next to him, causing it to fall and scatter across the tiled floor. I looked at the mess, and responded with, “okay, let’s pick it up.” A boy stared at me and replied, “Miss Quigg, you have a very patient face.”
“Lord, help me choose patience in every moment with my students, so they might know you more.”
~As the class was lining up for lunch I looked back to see if everyone was lining up correctly and noticed busy hands writing, “I love Miss Quigg” on the white board.
“Lord, help every student see your love for them through my love for them.”
~After lunch I was at my tree position, monitoring the soccer being played. These kids could outplay most adults, the ability to move with the ball seeming to flow from their souls. The same mischievous boy, who has added much fun and challenge in the classroom, was trying to get the ball from one of his buddies. They were past the tree, which is no soccer territory, and I tried to explain using hand motions that they could not play over there. A few minutes later the ball was kicked past the tree again, and he ran to challenge the student who had arrived first. Then, as if sensing my eyes, he turned, flashed me a smile and walked back. It’s just the little victories sometimes.
“Lord, help me to focus on the good in every child.”
~We played a get to know you game: two teams with a sheet being held between as a barrier. One person from each team sat near the sheet, and as it dropped whoever said the other person’s name faster won the point. In one particular instance, a boy said four names before guessing the correct girl’s name on the other side. By the time the name was guessed every child was laughing with such a free abandon, I wanted to live in that moment forever.
“Lord, help me show the freedom in joy that can be experienced through a relationship with you.”
I love hearing “Miss Quigg” as it comes out sounding like, “Miss Quick,” or “Miss Queek,” or teacher, or maestra.
I love being told by a student that he told his Mom, “I can’t wait to go back to school tomorrow.”
I love being the one that my students run to when they need help.
I love having the responsibility and challenge to meet every student’s needs.
I love watching their natural and talented soccer skills after lunch.
I love sweaty hugs goodbye and Buenos Dias as they come into school.
I love knowing I am right where God wants me to be.
On Friday, I had never felt so emotionally drained, so physically exhausted (when do teachers sit down?!), and empty of all creativity. On Friday, I had never felt so overflowing with love, excited about seeing my students again, and filled with an unmistakable peace.
I know that I am young, naive about the amount of hard work and time-consuming labor that it takes to prepare each night, and lacking experience and wisdom in many situations. But, I will choose to remind myself why I am here, why these students were placed in my life, and the way God worked all things out for me to be in this place, in this moment in time, with these particular people.
Miss Quigg, 5th-grade teacher
More of Sarah’s thoughts and stories can be found at her personal blog, “How Missions Ruined My Life.”