Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where are they coming from and where are they going?

The new school year has begun(a new season), and like many other teachers, I have come out of a summer planning period of imagining where I would like to see my students in several months, if not in two to three years.  As I planned, I saw specific students in my mind.  I wondered how they were experiencing life the past months and where they will be emotionally and academically.  Looking to the end, or at some projected point out in the future, I worked through the content of my teaching to try and prepare the groundwork for the next year.  It required reflection on the previous year, understanding of the students who would be coming to my class and creativity.  

None of this comes as a surprise.  In fact, teaching is only one of many professions that calls for this type of activity.  Business, medicine, law, psychology, etcetera call the professional to look back and look forward to preparing.  

While preparing, though, a theme from Genesis 16:8 (ESV) came to mind.  When Hagar had run from Abram and Sarai, God spoke to her and asked: “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”.  When I hear these questions coming from God to Hagar, I hear him asking me, "Brian, servant of learners, where have you come from and where are you going?"   I hear Him asking me to search my heart and His wisdom in preparation for my students.  I hear him asking me to be reflective and learn about my students' lives and perspectives.  Where are they coming from and where are they going?  How can I prepare to receive them, care for them, challenge them, help them grow?

Where are we coming from and where are we going?  Do we know? Have we thought about it enough?

Where are our students(or if you are not a teacher… your employees, or patients or clients) coming from and where are they going?  

Everyone Has a Story

Each of us has a Story!

This last week was the type of week that both energizes and saps energy, fortunately, they work together for balance.
The week marked the middle of our grade period...and our classes for this term.  On the way to school, I quietly panned my classroom in my mind and tried to imagine what I knew about each student.  The deeper I dug, the more I realized that what I knew about some students was surface-level knowledge.  This disturbed me, because it represented a break in the community, the very thing that we all need. 

Upon beginning my classes that day, I pointed out to my students that we had been working hard in class.  We had been learning a great deal about our subjects, which is why we are in school.  We are there for another reason, community, and to build community, we need to know each other.  We work alongside each other and build a team through that work, but how often do we stop to intentionally learn more about each other on a personal level?  So, we decided to challenge that assumption.

I started by telling something about myself that I felt the class did not know, and others in the class were invited to ask a question about it.  The response was wonderful.  Students wanted to know more about their teacher.  Then, I chose someone in the circle.  That person could share like I did or have me ask a question to prompt sharing.  To my surprise, these students wanted to share.  They dove more deeply than I expected and came out toward the end of the class period with a question.  "Mr. Pickerd, can we do this tomorrow in French?"  

It was clear to me that in as far as I desire to know about my students, they want to be known.  As we come to be known(and know others) we begin to recognize that our individual stories mix and mingle with those of others around us.  They become parts of a larger story.

Each of us has a story!