Engraved

On teaching.

  • Children sometimes do things that you wouldn’t even dream of telling them not to do.
  • Sometimes, you tell them to do something (you give very clear directions- step by step instructions) and they still do the exact opposite.
  • I have a name for the person who invented the letters and d. It is this: IDIOT. Honestly. Did they not think that one through? Why would you create two letters that look so close to the same? Did they not consider how confusing that would be for all the first graders of the world? And how frustrating it would be for their teachers? How every time the letter b or d shows up, the teacher’s heart would stop for a moment as the student studies the letter? It’s so wonderful when they get it right and so devastating when they get it wrong.
  • Why do kids write so many letters and numbers backwards? At the beginning, this really worried me. Until I realized that they were all doing it. So it might be a common kid thing. I mean, they are pretty young, and this whole numbers and letters thing- it’s still pretty new to them. I say that we give them some time.
  • Sometimes, it feels as though getting my chalkboards ready for the next day requires just a bit more artistic ability than God has given me. I can’t write straight on a chalkboard.
  • Noon hour game with 32 first and second graders and the wonderful Miss Jantzi- craziness. Pure craziness and hilarity. I love it. I think I actually look forward to it almost as much as my students do. Although I don’t like when we play chain tag. It makes me too tired.
  • Parents, please- just buy your kid shoes with velcro until they are capable of typing their shoelaces quickly. There’s a reason that grade two almost always beats us out for the noon hour game, much to my students’ dismay. And that reason is shoelaces. One kid’s shoelaces.
  • Kids say the funniest things. They do. They make me laugh so hard sometimes. Honestly… I can’t even begin to describe to you how funny my students are. And how cute!! You should see them. So cute and smart and tiny and funny.
  • I like when we’re playing outside, and I raise my hand, and they all come running to me, because that’s what they’re supposed to do when I raise my hand. All of a sudden, the 17 of us are one tightly packed group. And I like it that way.
  • When you’re a teacher, you automatically become a target in noon hour games. There’s apparently something thrilling about catching your teacher. Sometimes, I’ll see a kid running at me with the wildest, craziest, most determined “catch that teacher” expression on their face. Makes me laugh every time.
  • Sometimes, when I’m teaching, or telling/reading them a story, I’ll look out at them, and some of them will just look absolutely delighted and enthralled, and I love that.
  • I love reading to them, and how, if I make my voice quiet and slow and calm, they stop wiggling, and the whole room just feels really still and peaceful, and almost suspenseful, like something wonderful is about to happen.
  • I have Sesame Street band-aids in my desk drawer. You know, in the unfortunate event that anyone should get injured. You would not believe how many people have had paper cuts, scratches, or just generally sore fingers (it’s those invisible  injuries that’ll get ya- but a bandaid will make it feel better.). So I’ve learned my lesson- don’t buy awesome band-aids. The very first band-aid that I ever put on a finger had the Count on it. It was only later that I thought of it that the Count is a vampire. I, a Christian day school teacher, put a vampire band-aid on a child’s finger. How awful is that? One time I got a paper cut after school, and so I thought that I’d use a Sesame street band-aid. That was when I learned that children’s band-aids are very small! I guess it’s because of their tiny fingers.
  • In reading circle the other day: someone was sounding out the word but. Put yourself in the very tiny (ideally velcro) shoes of a first grader. Say the word but. Sound it out. Letter by letter. Are you thinking about the word but as a conjunction? Bet you’re not. My first graders certainly weren’t. Snickers all around. Even from me. And then I told them to grow up.
  • There is so much that they don’t know. It keeps blowing me away. You know what else blows me away? How quickly some of them can learn things. It’s pretty incredible.
  • The other day, we had an art class outside. We took our sketchbooks out, and sat in a circle, and didn’t talk to eachother, and just drew what we saw around us. It was pretty adorable. You should have seen them. They took it very seriously.
  • If there is one moment, every single day, that I wish I could take a picture of, it is when I am walking up and down the aisles showing them a picture in Charlotte’s Web. I love looking down at them while I’m walking. They lean in close to see the picture. At that point, curiosity is the primary expression on their face. You can actually see it. And then, once they’ve had a second to take the picture in, that curiosity turns into smiles and bright eyes and sometimes even giggles. I love it. I wish you all could see it. It’s heart-warming.
  • They love to answer questions. Their hands fly up so quickly. I am seriously afraid that someone is going to sprain a shoulder or elbow in their desperation to answer “What does 2+2 equal?” or to be the next Zebra Zoomobile driver.
  • I have a student who just wants to play baseball. I love him. He’s the sweetest. And the worst. That’s right. He can be both. All in the same day. He gives me three paper hearts, and then goes and sits completely backwards in his desk (which can’t even be comfortable). How does one deal with that?
  • One of my favourite times every day is when we pray at the end of devotions. I usually get some of them up there to pray, and we take requests, and their prayers… well, they are just the awesomest. I love hearing them talk to God.

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” -Isaiah 49:16.

All seventeen of us in the first grade classroom at CCS have been engraved on the palms of God’s hands. I read that, and first of all applied it to myself (because that’s how self-consumed I can be, I guess- and also because it was something I really needed to know at the moment when I came across this. The reason I really needed to know it was because I was pretty sure that I had made a mistake when I took this job. I won’t go into all of it… but the first week? Well, that was just awful. One day, I cried all the way from my classroom (some very kind people lent me their shoulders to cry on) to the parking lot of Future Shop, where my brother expected me to compose myself in preparation to go to the mall. But I basically sat there in the van and just bawled while he bought a cooling mat for his laptop. It was definitely a low point for me. I stopped crying for a few hours, and then took it up again later that night when Mom asked me how my day had been. The worst thing in the world is to have to finish a day and feel like a complete failure, only to realize that you have to spend all evening preparing for the next day. That’s probably not actually the worst thing in the world. But it felt like it. So anyways… I was not a happy girl for a few days there. And I read the verse from Isaiah, and realized that God had not only engraved me on His palms… but that my 16 students were also engraved there. And that made each of them pretty valuable and important, and placed a lot of responsibility on me as their teacher. I mean, to be charge of someone that God loves enough to engrave on His hands? If you find yourself in that position, there is only one thing to do.

Love them like God does.

Treat each of them like they are the most important person in the world.

Give them the best of myself.

Continue pouring out my energy even when it feels like they’re giving nothing in return.

Show them what is most important in life- through your words, your actions, and your attitude. While I was driving today, I heard something that made me feel really sad. I don’t remember a whole lot of specifics about what Josh Tesh said, but apparently, there has recently been a huge increase in meditation for children. Parents are downloading meditation apps (who knew that they even existed?) for their kids, and some schools are even incorporating “meditation classes” for their students, simply because the children of today are too stressed. They worry- about school, about their families’ finances, extra-curricular activities, etc. Some of the consequences of this are sleep and anxiety disorders. Isn’t that sad? I want my kids to know that trusting Jesus brings peace.

Teaching them still feels like a huge job, and sometimes I don’t think I can do and sometimes I don’t think I like it.

But other times I love it.

This is a corner of my classroom. My classroom is a beautiful place in the late afternoon when the sun shines in. It gets very warm and golden in there. I think it might be becoming one of my favourite places.
This is a corner of my classroom. My classroom is a beautiful place in the late afternoon when the sun shines in. It gets very warm and golden in there. I think it might be becoming one of my favourite places. Now that I am a first grade teacher, I say witty things like, “Get ready for a sweet year” on a bulletin board that involves lollipops. Also, now that I am a first grade teacher, I get excited when I get to talk to adults. In a sing-song voice, I think to myself, “I’m talking to an adult, I’m talking to an adult…” It’s not that I don’t like conversing with children all day. It’s just that they say ridiculous things. And then I say ridiculous things in response. And it’s nice, every now and then, to be reminded that I am capable of having a conversation with someone who is over four feet tall and doesn’t carry around lady bugs in a water bottle.

4 thoughts on “Engraved

  1. That’s so funny!!! You’re an awesome writer and and awesome teacher. Did you know you changed since you started teaching? I think it’s a good thing, though. 🙂

  2. Oh, Jas… I knew it!! You’re a wonderful, hilarious, sweet-hearted teacher. I love how you put those moments into script. It says it all. Keep teaching, keep loving God and those little people, and keep writing!!

  3. I love your post! You have such a creative way to bring the reader into the moment. I also laughed a few times at your post! One of my fifth graders had great intentions of writing something funny on the board and began writing “no more class for the whole year” Unfortunately he tried to split the word ‘class’ due to limited writing space. IN BIG LETTERS. He didn’t realize what he did. It was during break and I was hoping to erase it without causing a ruckus and embarrassment for the boy. Needless to say it was the quite and polite girl that gets an evil grin and starts snickering and grabs another girl and points out his mistake. OH my the funny moments they give us.

  4. Oh, Jas, there aren’t too many bloggers whose posts have me lol-ing and getting tears just paragraphs apart. Must be the sign of a good writer and teacher. Or maybe it’s an engraved one…

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