Ha! See what I did there? I lured ya’ll in thinking this post would be about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when, in fact, it’s not. That’ll be a post for another time. But for right now… I have a confession to make.
Sometimes… I’m not really sure I’m supposed to be an elementary school teacher. A teacher, yes. An elementary school teacher? Well, let’s just say that I occasionally have my doubts.
Take today for instance. I was in my classroom unpacking, repacking, hanging up, taking down, rearranging, changing, and giving the place a complete overhaul in preparation for the upcoming school year. I enjoy doing it. I really do. It’s probably one of the best parts of being a teacher – figuring out what’s going to capture a kiddo’s eye and attention, deciding how best to tap into their potential just by figuring out a layout that’s conducive to learning, determining how to make the space warm, welcoming and intriguing at the same time.
So, there I was, combing through a never-ending pile of posters, when I came across a “Word of the Week” hanging chart. And I thought, “Hm… I guess I could use that for vocabulary words…” and I set it aside. Then, I came across a gigantic cross I had made a few years back to help the kiddos keep track of how they were growing in virtue as a class. And that’s when I had my “Eureka!” moment.
I looked over at my “Scripture Verse of the Week” poster and tore it down. No. This whole “delving into the scriptures” thing I’d been wanting to do was getting a complete overhaul. Our “Word of the Week” was going to come from the Word of God. I would highlight a vocabulary word from scripture every week, and tie it into a reading that they could look up and find in their Bibles and then memorize. So, not only would we be learning vocabulary words, we would be getting familiar with our Bibles, and learning how to decipher what exactly the scripture was telling us. THEN, using the gigantic cross, we would look for ways in which others were exemplifying the vocabulary word and begin to fill in the cross with those examples of virtue. So, for instance, the word we’re starting with is “Strive”. So, I copied down Matthew 6:33, (“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”), and opened the Bible to that page where I highlighted the passage. This will be the scripture verse they memorize. Then, during their first week of school, the kiddos will look for ways in which their classmates are “striving” for righteousness, and we’ll fill in the cross with these examples.
I got so stinking excited, I couldn’t go home until I finished this new project. I was so excited, I may have been tingling all over. I was so excited that I may have been blathering on about it to anyone who would listen to me.
And that’s when it hit me. Nothing in the realm of teaching gets me this excited unless it’s about teaching the faith. It doesn’t matter what subject we’re talking about… math, science, social studies, literature… nothing gets me as excited as the Christian faith. Put me in the middle of a staff meeting where we discuss how to implement more rigorous standards and I hit the snooze button. Put me in the middle of a staff meeting where we discuss changing our religion curriculum, or implementing active participation at Mass and I am WIDE awake and completely unable to shut up.
I’ve seen how people look at me when I start talking about teaching the faith. Usually there’s a moment of recognition and this realization of, “Wow. She’s really passionate about this…”, but it quickly fades into slight confusion and boredom because they don’t share that same passion. But other times, when you find someone as passionate about this stuff as you are, you see the moment of recognition morph into the same joyful giddiness that’s written all over your face and it turns into the BEST CONVERSATION EVER.
That’s where I get tripped up. My passion for the faith is way bigger than my passion for teaching. I actually said to my sister tonight (in jest, but maybe there was a teeny, tiny, minuscule part of me that kinda, sorta meant it…), “I really don’t care if they know their multiplication facts or can spell as long as they know how much Jesus loves them and wants a relationship with them.” And then I instantly felt guilty because no elementary school teacher should say something like that! I mean… OF COURSE I want them to learn their multiplication facts and have a decent mastery of spelling but… I just really, REALLY want them to learn about the Christian faith.
You guys… I haven’t told many people this… but before I went back to school to get my teaching license, I was this close to going back to school for a degree in theology and possibly going to seminary. But the thought of being a pastor made me laugh, (and now that I’m a Catholic, it’s just that much more funny). To be honest, I’m crazy jealous of the job that pastors and youth ministers and religious education directors and missionaries have. I mean, they get to talk about and teach about and learn about Jesus ALL DAY LONG. Does it GET any better than that?! That’s like, my dream job, peeps. And if I wasn’t up to my eye balls in so much student loan debt that I have no possible means of paying off, you can bet your sweet bippy I’d be heading back to school for a theology degree.
But alas, that is not in the cards… for now. Maybe when I’m ninety. For now, I’ll continue being a good steward of the faith in the classroom, and wait eagerly for those religion lessons to come around every week, and discuss with the kiddos with as much passion and zeal as is containable the aspects of the faith throughout the school day. I guess that will just be the cherry on top of an otherwise awesome job.