When People Surprise You

For those who’ve been around this space for a while know that I am a newbie teacher who just started to experience ‘real work life’.
I work 100% even though it often feels more like 250%. I get up early, make some coffee, go to work, run around school all day from class to class, get home exhausted and prepare for the next day.

Continue reading “When People Surprise You”

When the Sky Surprises You

Last week was super busy for me. It was the first real week of teaching and I got the full load of classes, admin work and students.
Additionally, we had parent’s meetings. Three days in a row I spent about twelve hours straight in school, preparing, introducing myself, answering questions… Continue reading “When the Sky Surprises You”

This Is Not Real

I walked out of the building and just stood there.
This was not happening.
This could not be real.
Just a few minutes ago the examiner had said, “Congratulations, you have passed.”

You see, this “Congratulations” was the last one to a long series of practical and oral exams as part of my teacher training.
And now it is over.
I am a teacher now.
Time to grow up and be a ‘real’ adult.


I can’t really describe how I feel.
I am still dizzy from excitement and a bit giddy that everything went to well.
I am still doubting that this really happened and it’s really over.
And yes (you know me), I am a bit nostalgic.
And era in my life comes to an end. Two decades of learning and training and education. From now on I get to teach and to train and to educate.
This is exciting, but immensely scary at the same time.

Life is full of transitions and changes, and you know what, that’s good.
Time passes by so quickly, and if we’re not careful, it passes us by.
So let’s enjoy now because you can never get it back.


Live in the moment.
Take in the beauty of today.
Spend time with the people around you.
Be thankful for the time that has passed by, for all the goodness you have seen, for all the grace you have received.
For all the treasures you’re able to pass on to the next day or person.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

And Yet

Just one small candle, its flame hardly seen against the bright blue sky.
But it was there.
Making a statement.

Twenty something students and I had just visited a concentration camp to get a first hand experience what our dark past had been like. The memories of torture, suffering, and death where looming over the hill. The lives of so many who had died here were still somehow present.
And now we were here to remember them.

It was an eerie feeling.
These people had died at the hands of those who no longer seemed to be people.
They were animals.
They had taken away whatever humanity had still been left in the victims and treated them like a piece of waste.
No dignity, no honor, just shame.


We remember those who suffered in the past, but realize the suffering of today as well.
The people who are forced into slave labor.
The people who suffer in prostitution or the porn industry.
The many refugees who wait at the gates of Europe and are met with nothing but hatred and spite.
The people who don’t fit into our little view of the world and we so often judge.

People are still cruel today.
Humanity and dignity is lost in so many places.

And yet.

One small candle makes a difference.
As more and more people light candles we come closer together.
We are all individuals, but we are also all together.
And together we can make this dark world a little brighter, a little better.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

It’s Different Now

About a year ago I wrote about my first weeks into the new teaching job. I wondered how I didn’t know who I was anymore because life had changed so much in a few months.

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.

photo-1447702027526-66133549fbd7This 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.

photo-1457369804613-52c61a468e7dA 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.

[Five Minute Friday] Celebrate

It is Friday. Finally. This has definitely been a long week.
A week of firsts.
The first time I walked into a room of students and introduced myself as their teacher. Not the intern, the teacher.
The first time I made my own rules and people actually listened.
The first time I walked out of a bad lesson and had no other teacher to blame but me.
One day was particularly frustrating and I carried that negative undertone with me all day. What had happened? Nothing much actually, but I had allowed minor things or the minority of a really good class to get to me.
It’s so easy to let one dark spot overshadow the bright whole, isn’t it?
And yet it’s so human.
We tend to look for mistakes instead of success.
We tend to linger on our weaknesses instead of maximizing our strengths. 
We tend to complain about our lack instead of enjoying the abundance we already live in. We tend to mourn instead of celebrating.
Over the last year I’ve gone back again and again to a song called “The Art of Celebration”.
It really is an art.
To celebrate no matter the circumstances.
And I am not talking about making merry and singing cheerful songs when all you want to do is cry. I am talking about singing after all, no matter how feeble the sound.
Your voice might quiver and break, but you keep on singing.
Your eyes might tear up, but you keep on looking out for the little blessings all around you. The good potential in everyone that sometimes takes a bit more time to uncover.
The energy and strength that comes from simple activities like a restful Sunday, a cup of good coffee, a few pages of a good book, a chat with a friend.
The belief that the sun is still there even though you can’t see it through the thick dark clouds.
Celebration is an art. Let’s practice it a bit more every day.
Celebrating with writing friends at Five Minute Friday today.


I fight.
I struggle with the new reality called my life.
I wrestle with the challenges thrown at me day after day that often seem overwhelming.
My mind knows I have to push through, towards the surface, towards the light.
But sometimes I’d rather not.

Sometimes I feel like a seed in the ground.
I’ve been planted for a reason.
I’m expected to gro.
Life has taken good care of me, watered and prodded me from time to time.
Now it’s time to grow.

Yet the soil is comfortable and familiar.
I know my way around, I know the people surrounding me.
I know how to behave.
I know I am me.

I just don’t want to change.
Don’t want to evolve.
Don’t want to go through the painful process of birthing seomthing new.
Why not stay a seed forever?

Because I would regret it.
I would miss out.
I would never see what’s above the ground.
I would never get to delight in the beautiful blowers around me.
I would never discover the strength and beatuy that’s been planted in me all along.
I would never get to discover new and surprising sides on me.

Only if I push through, only if I wait for roots to thicken, for seeds to break open, for some of the old things to die – I will also harvest the beautiful new life that comes from growth.
It’s time to grow.

And so I wait.
So I push.
So I focus on the light above that’s to come and the vision of new life ahead of me.

Linking up with Karen Beth and her writing group today. Thankful for prompt words that keep my mind spinning, my words coming together, and my fingers on the keyboard dancing!

[Five Minute Friday] Plan

I try. I try really hard.
I think and plan and think and evaluate some more.
I neglect old plans and come up with new ones.
I rethink every idea I have and I am careful to not miss anything.

And yet, nothing goes as planned.
Time is too short, material is missing, students come up with their own, unique ideas.
I have not taught a single lesson the way I had planned it.

And that is totally fine.

Working with people is never a full-proof thing.
You can’t choose to invest in people without taking a risk.
You can’t program others like you would program a computer.
You can give a certain input, but you can never be sure about the outcome.
Everyone working outside an office might be familiar with that.

We’re all little planners.
We plan our day. When to get up, when to do what, when to meet friends.
We plan our months and years. When to visit relatives, when to go on vacation.
We ultimately plan our lives. When to get married. When to have kids. Where to live and how to pay off mortgages.

We experience success, happiness, and fulfilled plans.
But I guess I’ve never met a person who hasn’t also experienced defeat, disappointment, and loss.
Plans fail. Every day, in every life.

And that is fine as well.
Because at the end of the day it’s not about the plan.
It’s about the interruptions and my attitude towards them.
They might change my plans, give them a different direction, bring something or someone to life we’d have never expected.
That’s what makes life rich and beautiful.

So how interruptible are your plans today?

On Fridays I plan to link up with Kate Motaung and a fabulous group of writers for Five Minute Friday. One prompt. Five minutes of writing. No editing. Come and join us!