Long time, no see (read: post). I just re-read my last post, and I’d like to say so much has changed, and it definitely has, but at times I still feel like I’m in that somewhere between place even though it’s now year two of teaching, advising yearbook, and being a true adult.
This past week, my yearbook staff found out about my blog and exclaimed, “Mrs. Brown (let’s be honest… most of them actually said Ms. Root because they’re some of the only students that will ever know me as who I was for just one year), you’ve been hiding an entire part of your life from us!”
Yes, kids. Yes I have. In the classroom and especially in my writing, I come off as confident and well-versed, but inside, it really takes a lot of courage to get over my fear of sharing my heart so publicly both at school and online, especially when my heart is captivated by a faith and beliefs that our world today looks at with a dismissive, disappointed scowl of preconceived judgement (we all do that a lot these days, don’t we?).
At work, my hope is that everything I do shows that I love Jesus and He is my joy and my strength because I don’t have the luxury of freely exclaiming that truth as a public school teacher. However, I know that the reality is I struggle with gossip that comes so easy in the rare moments I get to spend with adults during the work day. I know that with the kids, I constantly hold my tongue because I don’t want them to see me as their “religious” teacher and dismiss everything I want to teach them.
I fear for my job yet I fear even more that I let opportunities to share the Gospel go when a teenager needs to know about Jesus the most. I pray that some day in their lives my students will know that the love I showed them was the same love that their Savior wants to give them for free.
It’s a slippery slope being a Christian teacher, and last week I wanted to quit. Even though there’s no one directly saying I can’t share my faith at all in my profession, I know that’s the unspoken rule and expected professional courtesy, and sometimes it feels crippling. I can’t bring it up during class time and if the subject ever does arise it must be student initiated… And yet every time I doubt God and ask Him if I’m really where He needs me to be to further His kingdom, He never fails to inspire a student to cross my path and begin a conversation that leads to Him.
He did just that with one of my sweet freshmen this week during such a chaotic, busy moment, and I couldn’t help but smile and think God, I see you. In my life, it’s hard to find a reason not to believe, and for that I am truly blessed.
My yearbook girls pointed out that I haven’t posted here in almost a year, and that’s because all that mattered to me the past year was them and their peers (oh yeah and I got married… which I should also probably write about). Writing is my passion and teaching is my mission field. I feel such a strong tug in my heart for today’s confused and forgotten teenagers, so much so that I’ve often forgotten what I need to do to take care of myself.
The truth is, when I teach and mentor and advise and coach, I am taking care of me… a me of the past but me just the same. I want to give my students all of the confidence, humility, grit, and faith they need to succeed in life. Teaching is funny because I have the title but day in and day out, I always feel like my students are the ones presenting me with the lessons.
So yearbook girls, because you may or may not read this, here’s to you… You know who you are.
You are everything I was at your age and more. You have the confidence and the self esteem I strived to have but never could master under my obsessive need for the right people to like me. You care about others so much and you always want to make people happy, but you don’t let their opinions define you. You’ve shared so much of your heart with me that I can’t help but want to do the same in return.
On so many hard days over the last year, you were one of the biggest reasons I had to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I think I was put in your life on purpose, but really, it was you who was put in mine. You keep me on my toes every single day. We have a special bond where we can always tell if the other is upset, and we never let it stay that way for too long. Seniors graduating will never be easy, but I know you will be my hardest goodbye.
You are wise beyond your years and so mature. As quiet as you were when we first met, now when we talk, I have to remind myself that I’m your teacher and you are my student. You always do the right thing, even when no one is watching. You’re the first one in the classroom in the morning (sometimes even before me) and the last to leave. You’re always watching and listening – the true characteristics of a journalist. I know I can always rely on you to lend a helping hand, and you’ve never complained, not even once.
Your sass is out of this world and I love every minute of it! You don’t let your struggles define you, even though there are many. You are an endless well of ideas and suggestions, and every day I wish we could just hang out in the yearbook room and create together during all seven class periods. Publishing a 256-page book with you both challenges me and makes my dreams come true, and I’m lucky to experience something like that every year as long as I teach.
I’ve let this post sit in my drafts for a few days out of fear of crossing a line. My profession requires me to share my heart to build rapport but also to hold true to the fine lines of privacy parents and students entrust in me. I’m always looking for teaching moments and lessons to be learned, hence the name of my blog, and by far one of the most special teaching moments was giving three of my first yearbook staff members the privilege of capturing my wedding day using skills they learned in my classroom.
That day was one of my favorites for many reasons, but one of the most subtle and sweetest details of the day was having three students who mean so much to me watch me become a bride. The day simply would not have been the same without them. Two of them are off to college chasing their dreams beyond my classroom, and one of them has a developing photography business where she has the experience of capturing senior photos, maternity photos, and now a bride getting ready to say “I do.”
If my life in my classroom reflects the life I committed to in my marriage, then my job in this world is well done. All glory be to God for my teaching moments, especially when I get to show who He is.