You know I have a bunch of friends and relatives who have chosen the teaching profession as their life long careers, and to be honest I was not always clear on what drew them into teaching in the first place. The idea of being surrounded by 15-20 kids day in and day out for 6-7 hours each day was something I would have probably tried to avoid at all cost! So this year when my church needed a 4th grade catechist I volunteered with the notion that I will most likely come to regret the move.
The year started and luckily for me I had a very small class of only 8 students, two boys and 6 girls. They all seemed cheerful and bright enough so we sized each other up…me vs. the students, and then we got right down to the material which needed to be covered in the 4th grade curriculum. We had made it to the Christmas break and by that point I thought “This teaching thing isn’t so bad.”
After the break we began to study the Liturgical year and the Ten Commandments. I drilled into their minds the entire sequence of the liturgical year not to mention having them know how many gospels there are and which one we are reading this year and of course knowing the commandments stone cold! And from time to time in the back of my mind I would wonder if anything I taught was actually sticking in their 4th grade heads or was I just banging my head against the door without realizing it.
Now we are down to the last two classes of this 4th grade year and this week I asked our pastor if he wouldn’t mind giving my students an in depth tour of the church we celebrate in every Sunday. (To be honest I wanted the tour as much as my students did.) So this past Tuesday we marched over to the church and had our tour. Father would give some information and then ask my students questions and each time he asked, well my students had an answer and it was the right one! He asked if anyone knew the liturgical calendar and they all threw their arms up in the air. He was very impressed to say the least, and truthfully so was I. We carried on and upon the completion of the tour Father explained to the class how some of the extra things the church does during the fall and winter months comes to a close as we draw nearer to the month of June. Then he asked my class if anyone knew why. Of course the expected answer was what every child looks forward to in June, the end of the school year, school closes, school’s out for summer, no more school!!! And then out of one little girl’s mouth came the words…”Ordinary time”. I was shocked! She, in her own mind, actually put the church’s liturgical year above that of the end of school year and uttered those words!
I smiled while patting her shoulder and with a big grin on my face I said to her “Thank you.” And in that moment, that single moment I felt that I knew why all those wonderful people, friends and family, chose teaching as their profession and why year after year they would look forward to the return of school in the fall.
I can equate it to this…You’re not having a great day on the golf course; everything you do just doesn’t seem to improve your game and you begin to wonder “What’s the point?” And then it happens, you make that one perfect shot, the Tiger Woods T.V. perfect shot and you think to yourself “Wow, I did that, I made that happen, I can do this” and very eagerly you move on to the next hole. Well that little girl was my perfect shot, I taught her that and because of me she knows that, and I can make a difference. The light went on in my mind and I thought “That is why they teach”! One of the best feelings in the world to hear the ideas and/or concepts of your teaching, the proverbial “fruit of your labor” come out in words from the mouth of one of your students. And I can tell you this…right now…that I absolutely cannot wait to come back again in the fall to meet and teach the next group of upcoming bright eyed and smiley faced 4th grade students!!