Teachers have feelings. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise, but it wasn’t until I was a teacher (which began a whole 3ish months ago) that I realized how true that is. Teachers have feelings. Teachers do notice when that student is being disrespectful in the most annoyingly non-verbal way possible. They do feel the slight when the student will hardly look at them for some unknown reason or slight. And teachers do feel the greatness of the small compliments from students.
Yesterday I gave a test to my seniors. The overall feeling emanating from them was one of complete dissatisfaction and annoyance. Well, perhaps not complete, but it was highly prevalent. What was even more mystifying was how when I was creating this test I was intentionally trying to be as easy as I could possibly bring myself to be, which granted isn’t perhaps easy but I did feel as though I was giving them a helping hand. Yes, I made the test a bit too long, but I gave them a word bank with only the words for the questions and all the words were used only once. I thought I was going to feel so good grading a lot of wonderful tests and watching their slightly sagging grades be buoyed up by the test. Yes…my high idealistic tendencies were quickly deflated as I watch a student look through his test and repeatedly shake his head at the test. It was then at 8:25 am that I realized that perhaps this test wasn’t quite the piece of cake I envisioned it to be. Nevertheless, I read through the test again and was reassured of my goodness. This class doesn’t particularly like me so I can chalk it up to the fact that whatever I do will be ridiculous to them.
By the time the final class of the day rolled around, the students had heard of the “impossible” test that I had given and how “nobody finished” before the bell. So as my 8th period students muddled through the test, I began to type an e-mail to a fellow teacher to ask her what to do when I think I made my test too difficult. As I was thinking of how to describe the situation after the bell rang and students were still finishing their test, a student turned in his test and quietly said, “I didn’t think it was that hard.” It was my saving grace for the moment. It reaffirmed my convictions that I wasn’t being ridiculous. And I wished that I could give him a hug or tell him just how much that meant to me at that particular moment. Instead all I said was, “Oh? Good.”
I know that my happiness and sadness cannot rest on the students or ride on what they think of me or what the hormones racing through their bodies are influencing them to do. But I am realizing that just because I became a teacher doesn’t mean that I am magically transformed into an adult who can handle adolescent attitude with ease or knows how to pen perfect length tests. Too often I am convinced that when I get to a certain point I will be radically different than I am now, that I will have it all together. As a middle schooler I thought that would happen in high school. In high school, I was convinced I would become the person I dreamed of being in college. And, well, now I suppose I fall into the idea that as soon as I meet Mr. Wonderful and we fall in love and are married and have nine children and one on the way that then I will be exactly the person I am to be. The truth is that I am constantly being transformed and being made into the person I need to be. We are all works in progress. But my idealistic view of myself may never really come into being because perhaps that creation of my imagination is not the person that God even desires to exist. What a pity it would be to spend all of my time racing after an image that is created in my own mind and not striving to become the person of God’s own design.
So their test, by their standards, was long and hard, an impossible task that couldn’t be completed and one they didn’t really want to. Perhaps that is a bit like life. At times life seems to be a journey that is impossible to do correctly and one that seems to provide more challenges than seems right. Yet maybe if we strove to not be so focused on the present crisis that seems to be making our world collapse and more on the overall picture of what God is doing in our lives, than we would be able to face our difficulties with the knowledge that just over the hill is rest, that on the journey we are strengthened with grace.
Now that I think about it, my test wasn’t so similar to life. Because with life we have the tremendous benefit of having an Omniscient God who loves us entirely, knows exactly what we need, and provides us inestimable aid along the way. So perhaps this imperfect little teacher made a mistake. The good news is that the Divine Teacher never does.