old and new

March 6, 2013

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Who knew? I was, in fact, terrified at the prospect of this new job. Teaching all day, sure. But a classroom teacher? I always admired the teachers I knew, observing their hard work and dedication with awe; but I always assumed that I could not do such a thing—could not be what seemed to be, for all practical reasons, mom to a roomful of little ones.
Yet here I find myself, smitten with my new work, and life—and “mom” to 23 little ones who are rapidly stealing my heart. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I am getting away with some sort of guilty pleasure. I mean, really—I get recess twice a day!
Today we played hockey, and I was on the losing team of our roundup. But in between comforting a teary-eyed young perfectionist [who had just been scored against] and lecturing my team about the merits of teamwork [as opposed to simply dashing for the puck and whacking it as hard as possible in whatever direction was convenient], I also managed to score a couple goals myself. I must say, it caught me off guard to hear a couple on the opposing team moan that they were doomed now, as I positioned myself against them ☺
But of course, there is much more to a Grade 4 day than just recess and P.E.
We must also labor through readings of James and the Giant Peach [and yes, I managed to amuse the class quite thoroughly with today’s musically-enhanced reading performance].
We must keep our columns straight in 3-digit long division. Truth be told, remembering my own tear-provoking laboring over this lesson back in boarding school days, I was rather impressed by their quick grasp of the concept.
We must detail diagrams of animal cells. As I started one for test review, I joked that they better look closely, since my whiteboard sketch would one day sell for millions in a famous gallery. They warned me that I had better take a picture of it, then. I told them they were right ☺
We must create character sketches, and map out plot outlines, as we outline our own story creations. This afternoon one girl asked me to help with one of the questions. What does your character want most in the world? She was stumped. “What is your character’s name?” I began. “Bouncy.” “Ok, and what does Bouncy do in your story?” Turns out she knew exactly what Bouncy wanted most. Tootsie Rolls. In fact, Bouncy’s main action in the story, thus far, consisted of begging Mr. Mac [the school principal] for lots and lots of Tootsie Rolls. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into a few lines of “. . . let me see your tootsie roll!” and pulling out some hip-hop moves, while I instead straight-facedly counseled her about Bouncy.
We must, in fact, carry out a good deal of serious school business on any given day. And, to be sure, I am drained by the end of each of them. But as each new day begins, excitement returns for the newness of it.
As so oftentimes in the past, there is grace for my weaknesses, failings, and fears. And when it comes down to it, I know I have been divinely plucked, and plopped.
Running some after-school errands, my friend and I came upon a stretch of road so striking that we stopped to stare at the contrast between old-town ruins and new-world high rises. We biked back to the same spot later, this time with a camera. In many ways, I think this contrast epitomizes this place, my home now. A land of long and rich history, and of rapid growth. A fascinating land to me, and one that I look forward to experiencing more fully as time goes by.

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