What my students taught me …

It is a misconception that teachers are in the best position to teach and guide their students because they seem to ‘know-it-all’. Truth is, teachers learn as much as they teach. My students taught me a lot of things, namely, how to manage them – their mood swings, their behaviour, their attitude towards studies and their learning styles.

I am thankful that God has led me to teaching – something I never thought I would be doing in my life. But after I’ve discovered that I am ADHD, I started researching on the types of jobs/career that would suit my personality and teaching is one of them! God certainly knows me best!

Children, like adults, want to be understood. Most parents and teachers (especially Asian) have the tendency to exert authority over children on the pretext that they know what is best for them. I’ve discovered along my teaching career that the best person who knows what they have learned and what they want to learn, is the child him/herself. I put myself in their shoes and try to think from their perspective – what’s going on in their head? Why are they bored? What upsets them? What interests them?

As a teacher, my job is not just teaching. I am facilitating and directing their thoughts. So I allow them the freedom to express themselves and I guided them to reflect on what they’ve learned.

My students also taught me that they are capable of thinking for themselves and that I ought to trust them. I need to trust and respect their decisions. Don’t we all want someone to trust and respect us? Likewise for children, they too want to be trusted and respected. I respect their learning styles. I respect the choice of words used in their essays. I respect their creativity and I hone them by giving them proper guidance and directions. I respect their thoughts expressed. Hence, teaching is about guiding students towards learning beyond their textbooks. It’s about cultivating their curiosity to continue researching on the topic/s learned for the day.

My students taught me that I needed more than just teaching, to know and understand their feelings and psychology. I need to practice the art of counseling children. I have had children with bad mood swings, who were rebellious and who had been bullied by their classmates. How they feel on that day affects their learning  – either it cripples their ability to learn or it excites or motivates them to learn. I’ve learned that I need to manage their emotions first, before I could even get them to read a passage or complete a worksheet. I’ve learned that children love it when we talk to them heart-to-heart. They love to share their feelings with you when they get the opportunity to do so. So I’ve learned that when they do, they are trusting me with their problems and I need to respect that. There’s a saying that goes ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. But I’ll say, ‘discipline the child with kind and loving words and they will go a long way’. As a typical Chinese who grew up under the rod, I used to have the misconception that the rod is the best tool to discipline a child. But then I’ve learned that sometimes, we don’t have to resort to the rod to get our message across. It makes them even more afraid to open themselves up to you. It makes them angry and it hurts them. It makes them despise you all the more. As the bible verse states: Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Therefore, I’ve learned that I need to observe their behaviour and patiently understand their emotions before deciding on how best to discipline them. Yes, yes, patience is the essence of teaching!

I’ve learned and am still learning to understand my students’ learning ability and styles. Not all my students could write well. So I alter and adapt my materials according to their present skills so that they could learn how to write. My years of training in the education field have taught me well indeed – that we need to scaffold our lessons. It does not mean that if my students can’t perform according to my expectations, they are incompetent – it’s just that they have not learned it / acquired the skill. I need to have confidence that they have the potential to learn and flourish, and I need to give them this confidence so that they can become more than what they are. So I’ve learned to adjust my expectations according to their levels.

Lastly, my students reminded me that I am not perfect! I don’t have all the right answers to their questions. I make mistakes all the time. So I need to be a role model, to teach them that we should admit our mistakes and apologise for them. This is the hardest part of being a teacher. It is never easy to admit our faults and imperfections, what more, apologise for them. Because of my students, I’ve learned humility. And God loves a humble servant for He exalts those who are humble. 1 Corinthians 8:9 – But you must see to it that this right of yours does not become a stumbling block for those who are weak.

Sounds hard isn’t it? But I’ve learned that it isn’t that bad if I could just love them more. Because all children see in their innocent eyes is who loves them and who doesn’t With love, teaching could be the best career anyone could ever have. It is not tiresome. It is not burdensome. It is a joy!

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A teacher’s dilemma …

Being an educator means shorter working hours and easier or lesser workload to many, but hey, have you ever tried being an educator before? I used to have these thoughts … until I become one myself. I did not choose the path of education for these two common reasons but rather, God has led me to believe that education is the one thing that I am passionate about. I’ve begun to realize that I love teaching and imparting whatever knowledge I can muster or gather to the people who need them. I’ve actually anticipated the stress and burden that comes with it as well, i.e. being responsible and accountable for someone’s future. Apart from that, the learning’s institution reputation as a world class institution or some shabby looking institution set up for means of raking in profits … very much depends on how the teachers carry them. And oh … by the way, in case most of you don’t know … the working hours have increased drastically for teachers … although they get to go home early, but that does not mean work stops there! Having anticipated this, I still got myself into education and this finally answered my long awaited question of “what is actually my passion?” Being passionate about something means you will do whatever it takes to make things happen regardless of the obstacles that WILL hinder you from moving forward.

Being an English and Communications lecturer means the world to me for I am passionate about these two subjects. Everyday I wake up thinking “what should I teach my students today”? Working on weekends become a hobby for me … for some they might think I am crazy! But hey, this is what having passion is all about. However, being passionate about something also means you will get equally disappointed about something as well. It has daunt on me that being a lecturer isn’t just being a lecturer only (at least in the institution where I am currently teaching). It also means being an adviser, a counselor and a coach which adds to the already burdensome workload I have at hand. No doubt these sounds very demotivating, but what makes it more demotivating was, I have recently been asked to do something unethical which has hurt my principle as a passionate educator. I had been asked to take up another subject which is of no interest to me and worse of all, I am no expert in that subject (although I graduated from this field). This actually translates to giving BAD education to students or rather CHEATING them off the school fees they have paid for. I could not believe my ears when I heard that news came to me and I would never bend my principles for the sake of bowing to the authorities to keep my job which I love. Why is this happening in this country? Already our national education system isn’t helping them at all, and here we are, screwing their lives and future MORE than they have already been screwed for.

Standing up to my beliefs and principles will get me into trouble with the authorities … yes, I felt guilty … and fear what may happen to me … but thinking back, I do not think that this is something that most educators would have done … On one hand, I felt proud for standing up for myself, and on the other, I felt guilty .. maybe towards God. I just wonder if this is God’s plan for me … to own up to my responsibility and to take charge with the leadership qualities that He has blessed me with in which, I failed to acknowledge. I don’t know … I am confused and I am all the more, disappointed! I may lose the job that I love … and this juncture I just want to believe that if this door is closed, God will open another one for me. I don’t wish to leave, I just hope the authorities will change their ways of running an education institution and their ways of ensuring that the students get the best out of us. I admit that I am not a perfect educator … but I believe that passion and interest will keep one going regardless of the obstacles they have to face. Please pray for me and my students that I will deliver my best to them and that I can keep my job teaching those two subjects that I love … please pray also for the authorities that God will grant them wisdom to handle their responsibility as an education provider to the needy. Thank you and God bless ….

Teachers deserve a place in heaven ….

All teachers deserve a place in heaven … so my colleagues said about the teaching profession as she poured through the Management examination papers, trying to get a grip of herself so that she doesn’t fall off her chair laughing at the crap she has read from the papers .. and I can truly attest to that statement. The amount of workload we have to go through and the amount of energy and time poured out to helping students grow and develop into mature individuals, ready to take the world into their own hands one day, is undeniably something that can never be underestimated. The teaching profession has taken a 180 degree change over the past few decades. Gone were the stories about teaching being the best jobs for women … half a day’s work, less workload and no politics to deal with. Maybe I were born 1 or 2 decades earlier, I would’ve loved being a teacher more. Preparation of materials is no easy task. I gotta make sure that students get the best out of my lesson and at the same time, I need to keep within the syllabus and lesson plans structured by the university. Students were more disciplined and obedient and respectful towards their teachers. Fast-forward to the future, teachers now have to deal with rowdy teenagers who think they are God’s greatest gifts on earth. Being pampered to the core, they know nothing about respecting others, always challenging other people’s opinion and are very hard-headed about themselves being right all the time .. when they are just nothing but a bunch of empty coconut shells.

This is evidenced in the answers provided in their examination papers … what a load of crap we teachers have to deal with! The answers provided just simply proved that they were not serious in their studies and how little they know what’s happening around them. It’s really sad to see how screwed up they are because of their upbringing. I don’t blame them entirely for their screwed up lives. They can thank their overly pampered attitudes to their overly protective parents and their dreadful “overestimated” SPM results to our education ministry. If my colleague think marking Management papers is a drag … wait till she starts marking English essays, which was what I have been doing since Tuesday this week. Overgeneralizations of grammatical rules, bad sentence structure with horrible usage of grammar rules and direct translation of words from Mandarin to English, limited vocabulary knowledge and worse of all, limited general knowledge or knowledge of the subject in the topic(s) attempted. By marking my students’ papers, I even got to learn new words which were conveniently coined by the students … check this out “disencourage” and “sexualization”. Not bad eh?

Oh well … despite the workload and the crap we teachers have to go through in our jobs … teaching by far has a place in my heart. After having worked in the corporate sectors for 11 years, I’ve finally found my true passion … which is teaching and helping the kids to find their ways, although some do not seem to think that they needed help. Nevertheless, I believe this is God’s given job to me. No matter how taxing and tiring it may seem, it is a blessing and I am sure (at least I want to know) that God has His best intentions in His plans for me. Here’s to all teachers out there …. “You are AMAZING .. Just the way YOU are” … keep up the good work .. although some may not appreciate our efforts and dedications .. just know that God does 🙂

It has been a long time …

Dear Bloggie,

It has been quite a while since I last chatted with you … how have you been? I hope you don’t feel abandoned because I have never forgotten about you … I’ve been really busy with work … working on God’s plans for me.

In case you do not know, God has blessed me with a teaching job at a university. I am teaching foundation studies program mainly English and Communication Skills. In some ways, I am glad God has put me in this place, but in some other ways, I felt really stressed out by the amount of workload thrown unto me. I never knew teaching can be so tiring … I have to stand, talk and deliver my presentation for at least 18 hours a week … prepare materials from scratch (since I’m new) and mark papers, tons of them! But overall, the satisfaction of being able to be there for the kids who needed my advice is far beyond what I can imagine. Before this, I’ve always doubted myself, my abilities and capabilities to handle a classroom full of rowdy and active teenagers who do not seem to stop…. their energy seems endless while I tire out so easily at the end of every class I taught … is this because I’m getting old?? Hmm … looks like it. But then again, I guess I am still getting adjusted to the mode of work … from sitting in front of the computer 8 hours a day to standing and talking for 5-6 hours a day is a huge adjustment for me.

Gosh, it has already been a month since I started teaching! How time flies. Last 2 weeks for me was crazy. I could hardly breathe as I poured energy into marking test scripts – hundreds of them! But I guess this is a teacher’s life.. As they always say that teaching is a noble job .. indeed it is … the amount of work we go through everyday of the week (and occasionally over the weekends as well) and the meager pay we get is hardly anyone’s dream job. But I guess it works differently for me. I never felt so excited about planning for my classes …. or rather, doing the job that is so taxing in nature. I guess, there’s a limit to everything … I don’t think my body can take the speed and dynamics of the work any longer … There were times where every part of my body’s breaking down one by one.

Nevertheless, despite the complaints about body aches and long hours, I find myself pushing towards God for sustenance of strength and comfort … Did I ever have doubts about his plan? Oh yes … How did I counter that? Well I nearly gave up at one point, but God proved to me that He is in control! Ever since I took up this teaching job, I never ceased to talk and pray to God for strength and to commit my every life into His hands … and it just felt so great to be by His side all the time. It was peace, despite the hectic schedule, calm despite the stress that overwhelms me and joyful, despite those times where I felt so drained out and punctured beyond repair … I guess these feelings are the sort of feelings that God has been trying to inculcate in us … This is what living in the light is all about!

I missed writing … I think writing helps me to release every bit of my feelings and thoughts ….Oh you know what? I was lucky to catch the interview between Oprah and JK Rowling (author of Harry Potter book series) and in that show, JK (or Jo as she was called) mentioned that she resorts to writing whenever she needs a breather from life’s difficulties and suffering. Having lost her mum as such a young age and gone through divorce can be painful moments for any one of us … but one thing I realized is that she acknowledges the existence of God in all these .. something that people (especially non-believers of God) would be inclined to do so and only dedicate all the glories and riches to their efforts … but there is a God … and He has prove Himself in Jo’s success. From someone who had gone through grievance, divorce and depression to someone who has made a name for herself as the richest author in America and Britain, God certainly works wonders with our weaknesses, so long as we submit our all to Him. I am glad (or rather blessed) to have watched this show … I think a lot of people love Oprah for her tact and ability to draw out the innermost feelings of each celebrity she interviewed … Her show makes us realize that the rich and famous do have their down moments as well and money and fame certainly do not guarantee happiness for anyone of us … only God can! … Amen?

Anyway, I shall stop here … I hope to be talking to you more Bloggie about my teaching life… it sure is an exciting and dynamic job .. I just need the energy and strength to carry it through … 🙂

A Teacher’s Value

Got this forwarded email from someone and what crossed my mind when I read it was a question – “Is God answering my query?” I’ve been offered a job to teach at a university, but the thought of furthering my studies part time and teaching full time can be really scary … recalling the times where I struggled to obtain my Master’s degree. But I have been hoping and praying for so long for a teaching job and when God finally answered my prayers, I doubted the offer. Firstly, university lecturers in Malaysia aren’t paid that well, and the amount of paperwork is plenty. I was elated at first at the sight of the offer, but after much contemplation and comparisons, I had doubts that I would be happy with the job! I think I am one complicated soul! When I don’t want something, it gets to me, when I wanted something really badly, it stayed away from me. Is this how life should be? But anyway, I prayed again, this time asking God if this is really the job for me? And I guess this email somehow clarified my doubts:

TEACHERS IN OUR LIVES

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”

To stress his point he said to another guest “You’re a teacher Bonnie, be honest, what do you make?”

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied “You want to know what I make?” (she paused for a second, then began…)

“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 minutes without an iPod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)

I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write … Key boarding isn’t everything. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator. I make all my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life. (Bonnie paused one last time and then continued). Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make Mr CEO?

His jaw dropped. He went silent.

And to sum up whatever that is written above – “TEACHING IS …. THE PROFESSION THAT MAKES ALL OTHER PROFESSIONS

I guess what God wanted to tell me, has been written in this forwarded email, that though money is necessary but it isn’t everything when the outcome of your noble work and sacrifices in sowing the seeds of knowledge and love in every individual you teach or coach bear fruit. This is the sort of passion that teachers should inculcate and not look at the teaching profession as means of getting a job that provides flexibility in working hours (so, the feedback I received from many female friends and ex-colleagues). I think this is what I need to remind myself over and over, when I take up the job that teaching is the profession that makes all other profession. I need to remind myself of my objective in applying for this job, the times when I prayed so fervently for this opportunity and how God has blessed me with this opportunity. Every job comes with its challenges and hardships, but so long as we uphold the passion and faith in God to carry us through, He will make our paths straight. Our ways are never His ways and neither our thoughts are His thoughts (Isaiah 55). Pray for me my fellow readers that I will find joy in this job and  whatever sacrifices I need to make and challenges I face at work, I will trust that the Lord will make my path straight. Thank you … and God bless you all 🙂

Being an effective lecturer

What makes a good lecturer?

For the past few days I have been searching for soul-inspiring articles about teaching from educators across the globe, as to get me all geared up towards teaching.  I am so fickled that I tend to stumble at the sight of uneasiness and challenges most teachers face in dealing with their classes. This is especially true when you have some really nasty students who refuse to take your word for it and just enjoys torturing their teachers by humiliating them in front of the class. It is very embarrassing for teachers who could not control/manage such students and it will be even more embarrassing when students question your ability to teach in front of the entire class. So, am I geared up for these challenges? Can I handle such situation and students? I stumbled upon another article on passion for teaching (on top of the one that I posted earlier) by Nicholas Atkinson who gave pretty good insights on what makes a good lecturer. To him, there really is no secret formula. It is very subjective and the style of presentation in each lecture varies to suit the students’ learning needs and abilities. Secondly, when you stand infront of the crowd, you are subjective to judgment and your performance and effectiveness of your teaching is determined by your students’ evaluation remarks at the end of the semester. This is could render you jobless and your teaching reputation will be tarnished at the end of the day, if you are deemed to be an ineffective teacher. So, can I handle this? Am I all geared up as I though I am? According to Atkinson, he says that to be a good lecturer, one must:

  • have a generally consistent routine in terms of being punctual to classes, maintaining a certain amount of presentation slide coverage per lecture, consistency in material handout and so on.
  • be able to allocate time to a topic appropriately – in other words, exhibit excellent time management in class
  • be passionate about the subject he/she is teaching – this will exhilarate learning among students, thus, making them more in-tuned and focus on their learning.
  • maintain a certain amount of focus and enthusiasm in teaching the subject to be able to drive the subject taught to its learning objectives.
  • be comedic – humor is important to enlighten the class and it is helpful to draw students’ attention to the class. Don’t over-do it for students will eventually take you for granted and will not take your class seriously.
  • have good people (interpersonal) skills – being able to communicate ideas and facts effectively in class and to be able to associate with students on the same level to establish a good teacher-student relationship.

Besides all the traits listed above, Atkinson believes that the students play a major role in shaping the confidence and effectiveness of the lecturer. For one, students exhibit positive progress in their learning and results show that the lecturer is effective in imparting knowledge in class. Secondly, when students show interest in learning as means of conveying their appreciation towards their lecturer’s effort in helping them learn. “The effectiveness of student input, coupled with the lecturer’s desire for passing their knowledge onto the next batch of academics should make for a winning combination“, says Atkinson. Well, this is true if you have a pretty good batch of students to deal with.

 

Dealing with rebellious teenage students as a lecturer

To be a lecturer at colleges/universities, you can not escape the fact that you will be dealing with teenagers and they have a set of attitude that you need to align your thoughts and teaching styles to. I read from another article  (by Allan Quartly) about handling teenages (for parents which is also applicable to lecturers), and according to Quartly, teenagers are rebellious lot who are still exploring the edges finding their way around as they learn how to be an adult. Allan’s ways of handling teenagers are pretty conversational and not confrontational. Here are his advice (quoting from his posting on http://www.essortment.com/all/teenagerebell_rdgq.htm):

  • Confronting teenagers almost never works, it only gives them an opportunity to test their will and strength.
  • When discussing behaviour with a teenager, talk about behaviour in general, not their behaviour in particular – this way, they can be objective and not feel the need to protect their position (defensive).
  • When discussing issues with teenagers, be prepared for an argument, they will question every point you make.
  • Do not just impart wisdom, ask questions that lead them to wisdom (in other words make them think for themselves!)
  • Be patient, firm and fair with teenagers (patience? hmmm). The key is to treat them like adults. You need to explain your actions in response to their misbehaviour.
  • Yelling and pleading with them doesn’t help because it only teaches them how to yell at someone else – remember, they are in learning mode every single minute of the day.

 

Dealing with depressed teenage students as a lecturer

Then, there are always cases where teenagers feel depressed that can be driven by both personal and medical reasons. As mentioned earlier, teenagers are in the growing up stage, exploring all ages of their lives and not knowing if what they do is right or wrong. Teenagers often act on impulse and thus, they are inclined to teenage rage and disappointments in every part of their lives, often triggered by the community they live in or the people they befriended. They seek attention from everyone, trying to prove to everyone that they are someone (I totally undestand that feeling). But if they don’t get what they expect to get, they fall into deep depression that can be potentially, suicidal. According to another online article by Denise Raterta (ref: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Denise_Raterta )  recent studies show alarming statistics on teenage suicide as a result of depression. In the US, a recent study on high school students shows that teens (60%) often think of killing themselves and some (9%) say that they have attempted suicide at least once. I must admit that I actually tried to kill myself several times but often the attempts failed because of my fear for pain 😛 But the feeling of not wanting to live on was extremely strong because I felt so dejected and rejected by the group of friends that I know at school. I felt so little among them and was their main target for bullying activities. This sort of feeling persisted for a fairly long time and it affected my thoughts and all forms of rationality and functionality. Being a lecturer is not just passing down knowledge, but also to be a counsellor and a shoulder to cry on for teenagers who suffer acute problems with depression. Lecturers need to put on the compassion they have in them for their students, often wanting to know the problems that would affect their learning progress and performances. Denise suggested that the simplest and most effective way to release one from depression is to tell it to someone else about your feelings. One good way of doing this is to cry out to God for He listens and He cares. Denise also directed her readers to read verses Peter 5:7; Phil 4:6,7; Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Hebrews 4:15,16 in the bible as a source of comfort and practical wisdom to the issue that causes depression. According to her as well, always try to help someone who is in depression to stay clear from idleness for an idle mind is fertile ground for depressing thoughts. Surround him/her with humour or positive things to say and help them lift their spirits again. If possible as Christians, we ought to pray for those who are in need. Even medical doctors tend to rely on God for His divine intervention.

 

Pray for me ….

Considering all these factors in play, the question of “will I make a good lecturer” still pops up in my head whenever I submit my application to a lecturer position opening in newspaper/ online job station adds.  Well I guess nobody’s born with the innate sense of right or wrong. I just need to learn how to be an effective lecturer through trial and error as I progress in my experience as a lecturer. Nevertheless, regardless of what the situation may seem to be, I just hope that I can count on God to walk me through and pray for my passion to be released from deep inside my heart to teach. Will you pray with me? Thank you very much for your prayers.

A blessed time at Sunday School (2010)

July 2010 – December 2010

My friends had been persuading me to take up teaching at our church’s Sunday School ministry since the beginning of my walk with Christ, and I had been turning them down persistently, until one day, I had this tinkling that I just wanted to step up and take up a role at the Sunday School ministry. Could it be God’s calling for me to take up the role? Well, surprisingly I submitted to the calling, seeing that my friend is also helping out with the ministry. Then all of a sudden, God had different plans for us. My friend backed out for she has other commitments to handle and I was left alone to handle the Standard 1 class with 3 other teachers that were unknown to me. And to my own surprise, I continued on this journey of my first ever ministry with the Sunday School kids. Call it nervous, yes it was indeed. My knowledge of the bible was as shallow as the kids’ and I was started to doubt my ability to handle the kids using the knowledge that I have. But I just prayed fervently for God to take control of things. Fortunately for me, I was given the Asst. Teacher’s role to assist the main teacher with some administrative tasks and with the kids’ activities.

At the initial stage of my stint serving at the SS ministry, I just felt numb, completely lost and was not sure what I was supposed to do.  The other teachers were not present at that time and I was as usual, early for class. The kids started running into the class and they looked at me like some stranger they have not met before (well, they did not know me for sure). They were adorable but they were noisy and restless just like any other 7-year-olds. They started jumping around, chasing each other in the classroom, and some of them even tried to talk to me. However, I could not connect with them and I started panicking. Then I remembered seeing my friends who served at the ministry taking out the materials from the cupboard allocated for SS and started tearing out the assignments for the week. I looked for those materials and thank God, I found them! But which one sheet should I prepare for the class? Thankfully, minutes later, the main teacher and another asst. teacher started walking into the class and the main teacher had the kids under control. She started giving me instructions on which sheet to tear out and I did as told.

As months go by, I began to feel the negative effects of spending 1 hour + on Sundays after services at SS. I felt tired and was pretty reluctant to attend classes at times. I was feeling burdened by the calling from God to serve in this ministry and many times, I just wanted to call it quits. But quitting means, quitting on God and not obeying His commands. I did not want to do that, but at the same time, I was caving into my the temptations of quitting the ministry. I pressed on in faith. But occasionally, I did skip some classes, some with valid reasons and some without. I felt bad for I had to leave the main teacher handling the class on her own. The other asst. teachers seemed to have their own commitments on Sundays and they were not present most of the time too to help out. So, I made it a point to stay on and help the main teacher with the class. Then, one fine day, I was asked to lead and teach one lesson to replace the main teacher who had to run off for her choir practice. I was stunned and panic surged up my spine. How am I to teach the kids bible knowledge that I lack myself? Thankfully as well, I have 2 weeks to prepare the lessons, but where do I start? To top if all off, the other 2 asst. teachers were not able to make it for that week’s class. Crap. I needed to find a replacement to help me out. I thank God that my friend was willing to avail herself to help me out and she has experience serving at the SS ministry too.

I flipped the pages of the teacher’s guide that was provided to teachers at the beginning of the SS semester, looking for some form of guidance to conduct the class. Then I read and tried to memorize the bible verses and the passage in the bible so I could equip myself with the necessary info to teach the class. I looked through the materials and started drafting the agenda for the day. I prayed and prayed for wisdom and patience to teach the kids. Then came the Sunday where I was in charge of teaching the class. I told myself multiple times to remain calm and just take the class through – just like what I did in the past as a part time tutor. I took out the materials, tore them out and started marking their attendances. The kids were very approachable, and I made it a point to interact and connect with them as much as I can. Little did I know, God was actually transforming me from within from someone who stays disconnected with children as much as she can to someone who loves them. I began to see the transformation in me when I could practically ignore their nosy and noisy behaviors and love them regardless.

My lesson was so smooth, but I was glad that the kids understood my lessons and they enjoyed the class. I nearly lost my voice because they were so interactive and not to mention noisy. They love answering quizzes and were not shy to give their own opinion. I truly appreciate feedback from my students and I enjoyed the class tremendously. As my bible knowledge was as limited as theirs, I gave them life applications (children ones of course) and related them to the passage that was read in class. The kids love crafts and I gave them little crafts to work on which is in a form of a scroll as seen in the book of Jeremiah. Time flew by so quickly it was already 12pm – time for them to worship the Lord in songs at the hall. The SS ministry committee came up with an Open Day activity to invite parents or children that are not attending SS at the moment, to come and witness the fun and joy of SS at the church in hopes to attract them to SS and subsequently to the Lord. My class put up a little skit based on the passage of The Sower. I prepared the props for the skit using colorful papers. I was very proud indeed of my masterpieces (ahem, hehe). The passage tells of the sower who sowed the seeds on the ground in hope that they will sprout into healthy living plants. But before the seeds could sprout, birds started eating them up and soon they were gone. The ones that were left uneaten, will start to sprout and when they do, the thorns of weeds that grow nearby started killing them one by one. This passage tells us that Jesus (as the Sower) will try to plant the seeds of the Holy Spirit in young Christians and as they grow in faith, the evil ones (thorns and birds) will try to reap them off Jesus so they do not follow Him but to dwell in evil desires and thoughts. But how we grow in faith and protect ourselves from the evil ones is through prayers and to equip ourselves with the word of God daily. The classroom was crowded with parents and visitors. The kids also presented a song at the end of the skit “Read Your Bible”. Practicing for the skit with the kids and helping them with their roles was tiring, but at the end of the day, it bore fruit. The skit presentation was successful and everyone enjoyed it. We had some snacks before calling it a day.

Then it came another time where I was asked to lead the class again. This time I had the two asst. teachers available to help me out. And during this time as well, I made a mistake by disseminating the kids into groups. It was harder to maintain discipline and control the crowd that way. I totally lost my voice at the end of the day and I did not feel confident that I did a good job. But I think God was satisfied with my efforts. Although the kids were noisy, they participated in the class activities and lessons regardless. I was totally punctured at the end of the day and I developed migraine following that. I hope I did a good job in making the kids understand the passage and the verse for the day. Time indeed flew by really fast and in came December – the Christmas month. The kids have to prepare presents for the Myanmar refugees in shoe boxes under the Shoe Box project organized by the committee. A Christmas party and a short time of fellowship were organized as well. During the fellowship, we played games and had snacks and before I know it, it was time for me to say goodbye to the kids. I was torn between choosing to continue on with the ministry and backing out. But in the end, I backed out and opted to rest for the next semester. I was not and still am not entirely sure if I should continue with the ministry. I will let God take me through that. I received 2 Christmas presents from my kids. They were so lovely, especially the gift that I received from a little girl who was very quiet and did not utter a single word throughout the semester. For the first time, I heard her spoke to me through the phone, as she was looking out for me to pass me my Christmas gift. I did not get to see her and she passed the gift to another teacher to be passed on to me. Her voice was so frail and soft. She did not talk much – just a short Merry Christmas. Her gift to me shows how much she remembered my teaching for she made little scrolls (as I have taught her in one of my classes) and put them into a nice heart-shaped bottle. I was so touched by her thoughts that emotions started welling up in me. I loved her gift so much and I began to miss her as well. I missed my kids. They were angels. I am glad God blessed me with this opportunity to teach at SS. The experience has taught me that teaching is indeed a fun and satisfying job especially when you see your kids grow with you. Thank you Lord, thank you kids for the wonderful experience 🙂