A year ago our school had a winter sports day and I went ice skating with 250 students. I had been at the school for a week and didn’t really know anyone, so it was pretty awkward standing at the ice rink watching students I didn’t know the names of, together with teachers I had just met. Conversations were rare and circled mostly around job-related questions or people kept to themselves. We were the new ones.
This was a year ago.
A few weeks ago we had the same winter sports day and once again I went ice skating. Mostly the same teachers, maybe even the same students.
But it was different this time.
I was standing at the rink, talking to other teachers. They aren’t strangers anymore, they are colleagues. Some of them even friends.
We shared the latest news, exchanged teaching ideas. We laughed at the students on the ice because we knew the stories behind the faces.
“Mrs vD, look at me! I just learned to skate!”
“ Can you take a picture of me?”
“Mrs vD, why aren’t you on the ice? You have to join us!”
So I did. And I was treated with smiling faces of some happy students.
What has changed in that one year?
Yes, I still have to get up quite early, and many mornings it’s a real struggle to get myself out of bed. But I have learned to appreciate the early mornings and have been blessed with so many beautiful sunrises, God’s abundant gift of generosity.
Yes, I am still tired a lot and can’t always stay up late. But I have learned to manage my time well so that work can be done in a reasonable amount of time. I am surprised that lesson planning and all the teaching work does get faster as I gain more experience. I have discovered that I do in fact have time for friends and hobbies. That I have to make time for these in order to remain sane and spiritually healthy.
Yes, I have had to cut short some relationships and my inbox is still ridiculously full with emails of dear friends waiting to hear from me. I have mourned how some relationships have changed over the years. But I have learned that I can also meet great people in new places. I have made some interesting connections with colleagues in the course of the year, they have helped me a lot settle in to this new routine and life. God is present in my mundane, and I often see Him in other people.
Yes, teaching is exhausting. You get the hang of lesson plans and how to be creative in like no time. but there’s still the people. No matter how good your ‘script’ is, it can all fall to pieces when your class doesn’t get what you mean or just has a bad day.
A group of 20-30 youngsters is a bunch of lifestyles, opinions and knowledge and it’s quite an interesting challenge to work with them each week. Each class is different and you can’t predict what’ll happen. This is scary and exciting at the same time.
Most of all, though, the classes are full of people.
Individual human beings, each with their unique biography and life story.
A story that deserves to be heard.
A lesson passes by so quickly and time to listen, really listen, is rare.
I only get to see bits and pieces of my students, but once in a while they allow me a glimpse inside their heart. And I can’t help but find myself wanting to talk to them, to listen and discover more.
These are no longer people I don’t know or some strange kids. These are my kids.
Yes, life has certainly changed quite a bit in the last year.
I have learned so much about life and work and other people.
In all of this, I still know who I am. I am still me, there are just a few new features in my life now.
While some aspects of the job will always be a struggle for me and I won’t always enjoy it, I have discovered that people are the real adventure. They make all the difference.