By: Michele Dobbs, Senior
I had to write a letter to future educators being inducted to our education honor society at North Central. As I wrote about what freshman me would have been motivated to hear, I reflected on my last four years in my process to becoming the educator I never thought I would have been able to blossom into. I struggle with the feeling of inadequacy often when thinking about leaving college and entering the real world, especially considering that I am just a new teacher who is still full of optimism, passionate to change the world, and not tarnished with all the politics and junk that can make the idealist a pessimistic realist real quick. I am including what I just wrote up (real quick in like 10 minutes) but as I did it made me realize how God has made me adequate as I submit myself to Him and what He has called me to do with my gifts He has given me. I am not sure who this letter will be going to necessarily and I guess I might be scared (WHICH I KNOW, I SHOULDN’T BE) about including the power of God and the gifts He blesses with those of us who can teach…but I tried to sprinkle that through implicitly.
This is just so timely (as God so often proves to me!) given that last week at our student led worship organization Focus, an alum who just recently got her MD (GO GRACE!) spoke about our feelings of inadequacy and the struggle to accept God’s grace. She expressed how we are not living up to our intended potential when we do not allow ourselves to accept the grace that is freely given. Instead, we need know and faithfully acknowledge that with God we become adequate when we give ourselves to the cause He call us to. As I reflect on this, I can help but return to these verses that I have been sitting with and finding comfort in lately:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
1 Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Now I may be feeling all of this more so lately because I graduate in a month, and I may be getting a big girl job within the next week or so, and that I will be leaving what has been home for me the last four years. And it truly does feel like home, even though it has been so difficult and overwhelming, to the point I wanted to quit so many times. But, God didn’t let me. He kept me going and now that I can see that and have a better understanding of my calling and my gifts for how to do that, I know I can endure the hard times. Because God uses the hard times to help refine us to strengthen our faith, so that we can devote ourselves to building the Kingdom and His glory!
So I leave you with this. Please try (I know its hard, I still struggle sometimes!) to remember that you may not feel like you are adequate but fear not for He is with you! If He has called you, follow Him and He will give you what you need in order to carry out His carefully crafted plan for your life! It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher, physicist, environmental economist, volunteer with the Peace Corps, bank teller, insurance agent, or any other job you may have just remember to do it for God. Everything changes when we submit ourselves to His plan and purpose and set our eyes on the cross!
If you read this and pray that you can turn your feelings of inadequacy to feelings of admiration for our Father who cares so much about you that He created a special job that is JUST FOR YOU! Now go out and do it!
Teacher Tips from a Slightly, Older, Wiser Senior
When the going gets tough, the though get going
When you start to get stressed with your work load, practicum, and life, just remind yourself of why you are here in the first place. If you’re like most of us, it is to have that impact on the student’s lives just like some teacher probably had on you and to make your family proud. So when it seems like it may be impossible, just know that others (including me!) have made it and that it is doable. Seek out help from others, including your professor! It will seem like so much, but know that through this process you are being refined and it will make you able to handle so much by the time you get into the classroom…you are going through the feels now, rather than in Student teaching and the 1st year of teaching. Know that it is hard, but for good reason.
Celebrate the little things
Enjoy the sunny days and nice weather. Celebrate an actually pretty decent meal at Kman. Celebrate getting through to the one student you worked on for so long in the little bit of time you were in the classroom for your practicum. If your are able to celebrate the little blessings that come your way then you will be able to get through the not so good times college brings you way, it’s helping to prepare you to life.
Remember the Golden Rule
When you are really tired and have a short fuse, just remember the Golden Rule. In the education field it is essential to get along with others, even when you don’t like them. You have to “Keep your eyes on the prize” and remember that whatever you do needs to be for the students and their needs, which means treating ot
hers as you want to be treated. As you get more into this, you will begin to experience how you can’t turn your teacher off and it will bleed into your everyday life, so why not have treating others like you want to be become part of your everyday life inside and outside the classroom!
“They don’t care what you know, until they know that you care”
Know that whatever classroom you are in that you must get to genuinely know and care about your students because what else are you there for? I teach history to a general population who are forced to take the class…how the heck do you get a bunch of 16 year olds to care about history? I did it through caring about them and their well-being as they try to navigate their worlds. No matter what age or subject you are teaching, give your students grace, hold them accountable to your standards, and teaching them that failing is part of the process of learning.
I wish you good luck on your path to becoming a life changer and educator!