Saturday, April 12, 2014

A lesson learned in language class...

Teaching writing can be one of the most rewarding and most frustrating exercises of a teacher's day. The events depicted here represent the type of things teachers go through every day. No need to try and figure out which students I might be talking about, because it represents classes throughout the years and at one time or another it represents us all!

I stood there trying to explain for about the sixth time how my student could improve his introduction to his essay. Every time I tried to explain, he would answer immediately and tell me what he needed to do. "No," I'd shake my head, "that's not what I'm saying." Again I would point out what needed to be corrected only to have him argue with me why what he had was correct. I tried to help him see that he had parts that took away from what he was trying to communicate, to which he argued with me again. Patiently - at least on the outside - I tried to explain again. Nothing seemed to get through. Finally I resorted to writing his sentences on the board and adding corrections so that he could see. I'm certain he was not convinced, but he started to make the necessary changes to his work. 

All I could do was inwardly shake my head. What should have taken only a moment took almost 5 minutes before progress was made. (Honestly - it seemed like it took about 30!)

In another group, students would show me their work and ask me to read it but they wouldn't stop talking! I'd managed to get through about half a sentence and they would start explaining what they had done. I finally had to stop them and help them see I could either listen to them or read their work but I really couldn't do both. We would laugh and muddle through. 

Later in the day, in yet another class, students were calling my name, asking would I read what they had written...they wanted my approval so much that they asked me to read every sentence as they wrote them. I finally got them to understand they needed to write at least a few sentences and then we could check their progress. 

One student who was really dragging his heels in the process finally completed enough that we could check what he had done. I said, "This is pretty good, we just need to look at this one part," to which he hung his head and almost at the point of pouting said, "but I worked really hard on this!" I took a step back, smiled and replied, "I didn't say it wasn't good. You just need to change the word 'buy' to 'bought' because it needs to be past tense." I guess he really didn't want my help, just my approval. He wasn't interested in getting better, just in getting done. He didn't want a teacher; he wanted a cheerleader.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and asking God, "What's the deal? I was very careful to be kind in all my correction. Why was this so difficult?" 

You know where this is going. Through the question and my students, God helped me see myself.

I saw my own life and the way I react to God. He tries to show me what I am doing that is derailing my purpose and I start to argue with Him why what I've added is needed! I start to answer Him with my own reasoning before He even finishes what He has to say. I fix in my mind what needs to be done and then try to convince Him why my way is better than what He is trying to help me see.

Or I go to God and ask Him what He wants me to do but I never stop talking long enough to listen. I'm far too busy explaining to Him what I'm asking - as if He doesn't have a clue.

Or I work "as unto the Lord" and then ask how I've done and when any correction comes I start to pout and complain - "but I worked so hard!" I never hear the words that would make my work stronger because I really don't want to hear anything other than how amazing it is.

In other words, I'm just like my students.

I wonder if I frustrate God. Does He shake His head and wonder why I won't listen to Him when He tries to show me the way...His way. 

Am I so wrapped up in doing things "my way" that I am not listening? Do I pray and talk right through His answer? Do I call Him Master and Lord and yet continue to do things "my way" because the truth is I think I know best?

I learn a lot from my students...and for that I am thankful.

Luke 6:46 (NIV)

 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Luke 6:46-47 (MSG)

46-47 “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

5-6 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.

Proverbs 14:12 (MSG)

12-13 There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
    but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

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