Retiring the dragon!

[notice]Musings around children’s ministry. Reflections on weeks 5 and 6 of a 10 weeks teaching stint.[/notice]

Last week I sincerely hoped this thing with my classes would not end with me in a jail cell singing,

“He had it coming! He had it coming! He only had himself to blame,
If you’d have been there, if you’d have seen it,
I bet you you would have done the same!”

Dragon lady is still roaming around but it seems that the children have upped their game too. There are some children that are coming up as heroes (knights) in an attempt to slay the dragon. As a newbie in this game I am barely holding on. I am sad to say that every day for the past two weeks I have had other teachers come into my class to try and help control my classes. I have tried every trick known to man to try and control these children, but so far I have not found anything that I can say is truly effective. I even had them pray to the Lord in the hope that they’d feel convicted and change…no such luck!

But that has been my problem I think, it’s been all about me. All about my performance, me maintaining discipline, me getting through the work, me, me, me! I realise that all of those things are important but I watched a TED talk recently by Rita Pierson entitled “Every Kid needs a Champion” that reminded me of a basic fact that I overlooked. Children cannot learn in an environment where there is no significant relationship with the teacher. In all my zeal to be a good teacher I have missed the fact that I have to appear to be human to the learners in order for them to learn from me. I guess I may have alienated them in my efforts to control them.

Rita Pierson talks about an occasion where she had to apologise to her learners for messing up a lesson and teaching them the wrong thing. It is that kind of humility that she encourages teachers to show in their classrooms. Because it is from a common place of humanity that connections are made, and meaningful learning can happen.

So this week’s article is less about what I have learned and more about where I hope the Lord takes me. I am officially retiring the dragon. Sadly, I fear that the dragon slayer committee will not rest until they find the dragon’s weak spot (Singing: He had it coming! Pop, Six, Squish, Uh-Uh, Cicero, Lipshitz). So while I will remain firm when I have to be, perhaps cracking a smile every now and then will contribute towards a less stressful learning environment for the rest of the term. I pray that I will become the champion in the lives of the learners I encounter.

As Rita Pierson says, they need someone who will believe in them no matter what, and when they only get 2 things right in a test…encourage them by pointing out that they didn’t miss every answer! Right now that feels like it is a long way off, particularly when I think back to how cross I was yesterday with my Grade 7s for failing their Natural Science test! But again, I can immediately recognise it as an issue of pride. The way I have been looking at it; their failure has less to do with them, and more to do with my perceived teaching abilities. While the Lord uses this teaching stint to grow me and change my heart; my prayer is that I will be faithful to change under His guidance. I want to be a champion to my learners, someone who really believes in them, even in the face of horrible behaviour or marks!

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