Lots of fun things happened today so let’s kick it off…
First up, a young woman who is a college senior majoring in both education and theology and is currently in my charge as a student-teacher, stepped up to the podium for the very first time! Why is this exciting? My friends, it’s almost like giving birth. Except, in this birth, there is no pushing, blood, cord, or baby. But, it’s a moment that makes me humble, proud, and grateful all at once.
When I started teaching over a decade ago, I had just come from the exciting world of television production. Looking for something more rewarding and desiring to be on the poverty line the rest of my life, I applied for and was hired to teach theology at a large Catholic high school in New Jersey. I was more surprised than anyone. Armed with a master’s degree in systematics and a lifetime of living the Catholic faith I was ready to teach. The only catch is that I was not ready to teach. I had no idea what I was doing and I was literally shown to my classroom, given a set of books, and left to my own devices. It took me a few years. Still I always had a sense of how to treat people, even teenage students, so it wasn’t terrible. There were moments I thought I’d quit because I truly believed that I sucked at this. But it got better. My wife has always been a huge source of encouragement in this regard. Thanks, honey.
So my student-teacher, as she prepped to draw on the board, take roll, and do a whole host of “teacher-y” things reminded me of how much I love teaching. She’s a little nervous. That’s good. It means she cares about what she’s doing.
I loved this day so much because of what I was able to do. My presence allowed someone else to get the kind of support I hadn’t had. I love teaching. I love Catholic schools. It is my life. To see someone so young and promising just starting out and to know that I can be a part of that is just amazing. Watching the students interact with her and knowing that they’re in good hands and that the future of our Catholic schools is bright is very rewarding. It’s funny to me that anyone would seek mentoring from me of all people.
You know my trainer? I may have mentioned him a few hundred times. First, he gave me a day off so I’m enjoying it sort of. I’m actually eager to be out running or dropping down for 50 push ups but I’ll take his advice that my body needs rest. Still I don’t believe he ever takes a break. The man’s a machine. But my point in bring him up is that I was able to serve as a “mentor” to him once. When he arrived at our school he already had a few years of teaching under his belt but I was asked to mentor him in his acclamation to our particular school. I really felt bad because there was nothing he could learn from me and yet we had this work relationship where I always think he thought I was a boss of some kind. No, my friend, we are colleagues. In fact, over the past three years I’ve known him I’ve seen in him a phenomenal teacher whom I have been blessed to learn from. Damn, he ripped, can run 2 minute miles AND is better at his job than me.
But the truth is that all of us can learn from one another. I don’t know that he’s ever learned anything from me about teaching other than what not to do. But today I felt proud of my emerging teacher. Who knows, maybe she’ll be the best theology teacher ever! Or maybe she’ll be in the right classroom at the right time somewhere down the road to inspire the right young man to consider the priesthood or to counsel the right young woman to choose life or maybe just to be the presence of Christ in the lives of those young people whom He wants to come to Him through her.
What a good day. God be praised!
I still did 50 push ups this morning. Don’t tell the trainer.