Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Motivation, Education, Inspiration

I am a teacher. I have wanted to be a teacher since... well since I can remember wanting to be anything. I love my job. I work at a school where I am supported by a wonderful staff team, an incredible administration and amazing parents. I have resources, a solid education, and am continually poured into by my team and numerous professional development opportunities. I love my job.

Yet there are so many times where I feel the burden of the job. I feel inadequate, I feel fatigued, I feel under-appreciated, and this is coming from someone who feels so incredibly blessed to be a teacher.

Some days it just feels so overwhelming.

I was thinking about this and it hit me: How much more would I feel those emotions if I had no training? If I was not equipped for my job? If I barely had a high school education, let alone training to be teacher? And yet this is what I had to do and I had no support and no resources. What if I was struggling with a student population who could hardly make it to school because of poverty, sickness, AIDs, abandonment. How much more prevalent would those feelings of inadequacy, lack of motivation and fear of failure be in my life? I began to hurt for the countless teachers who do this every single day.

I think about how much encouragement it brings me when a thoughtful parent drops off a basket of muffins in the teacher’s lounge. Something so simple can bring so much joy, and yet there are teachers who never get to experience that. And not only do they not get to experience that, but they don’t even have training, education or ability to go to professional development and find the joy of teaching and learn how to motivate their students to see these results that make teaching so rewarding.

As I have been thinking and praying about this, God has placed a passion and excitement in my heart and life to help these teachers. I want to love on the teachers in Subsaharan Africa who don’t have training, who have never been given the opportunity to be equipped for their job. Yet they are in this job without pay, without support and it is what they have to do day in and day out. I can't even imagine the fatigue and weariness they must feel!

I want to go and love on them and spoil them, for however long I can! I want to show them encouragement while giving them professional development through seminars and workshops. To be able to do that for teachers seems like such a huge need because it is not being done! I have scoured the internet and the research to see what is out there for these teachers and I haven’t found much. UNICEF and UNESCO have initiatives and programs to help make the situation better, but I can’t find much about people actually going in and just encouraging and supporting the teachers while providing professional development. That’s what I want to do!

The vision that I feel like God has given me is to find 4-5 schools that we could go into every summer and build a relationship with the teachers. Every year go in and pour into those teachers and see them grow year after year and develop them in their trade, in order to really reach their students! Reaching students is what teaching is all about. We could go in and teach lessons for a week, but what if I could share my knowledge and passion for teaching and the countless resources that I have at my fingertips? I could give these things to the teachers, and then how much more of a lasting impact would that have on the students?! The students would not just get to experience it for a week, but rather all year long!

I know how motivated I can get from a day or week of professional development, Sharing ideas and collaborating with other teachers. So I can only imagine how much more motivating and inspiring could that be for someone who has never had that opportunity. This is the opportunity that I want to give to untrained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa! This summer I am traveling to Namibia, where only 30% of the teacher have received training. I am hoping to plan a week long workshop to provide motivation, education and inspiration to the teachers at one local school!

I feel so incredibly inadequate. I am only in my third year of teaching, and I hardly know where to begin. Please share with me your knowledge and insight! My challenge for you today is this: if you have a passion for teaching and resources at your fingertips, then don’t keep them to yourself! There is a world of students out there who need them and need teachers with them! If we can equip teachers, we can reach countless more students and change the world!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Little Girl Dreams

To say it has been a while would be a putting it gently. Nine months have passed since I stuffed my suitcases to the brim, said tearful goodbyes to the people I have loved and shared life with for two years, and boarded a flight back to the US. In the past nine months I have found myself in a life that is completely unexpected and drastically different then anything I have experienced so far... I have a job, an apartment, I am in the United States, I pay my own bills... Seems as though I'm an adult! Imagine that!

All joking aside, I am loving [almost] every moment of living and teaching in Charlotte. :) My job is challenging, yet so undeniably rewarding. I am growing professionally more and more each day. I have had the opportunity to use my abilities and experiences in dance and theater to do the choreography for my school's Show Choir and our musical, The Wizard of Oz! Outside of work, I have been richly blessed with friendships that bring such joy and encouragement. I have nested into my own little apartment, and decorating my own place was everything I hoped it would be (I'll get some pictures posted asap)! Life is good, God is good! It has not all been easy- I've struggled with fatigue, loneliness and heartache, but I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be for this season. It's not where I ever expected to be, but I am overwhelmingly thankful to be here.

In my absence from the blogging world, I felt like I was in a time of settling in. I was settling into a new home, a new job, a new ministry, a new direction. To be honest, I haven't known what direction my life would take. I still don't. My ministry right now is teaching and pouring into my students. Each day is a new adventure with them, but I am still left with a very slight but ever-present restlessness deep down in the depths of my heart. I believe that teaching is my passion and my gifting, but I am still praying about what that exactly means. Does it mean that I get to live in this fabulous city on a beautiful lake and show my suburban kiddos the love of Christ through my actions in the classroom? Right now, yes.

Right now. I am trying to enjoy each moment. I am humbled and honored to receive such a noble calling. This is what I dreamed of doing ever since I was a little girl. This was my little girl dream, and I am living it. Yet what I am learning is that sometimes our "little girl (or boy) dreams" are not our God-given destinies! (Thank you Beth Moore) For some of us, that is a good thing- I think about a dear friend of mine who, as a little boy, wanted to be a firetruck when he grew up. Thankfully God had different things in store for him! Other times we wonder why our dreams can't come true. My little girl dream was to be a teacher, wife and mother. That doesn't seem like too much to ask, and maybe I will be all those things, but more than any of them, I want my God-given destiny! We all have one, and it may seem to be poor timing, or feel like an unreasonable expectation, or leave you with unanswered questions, but oh, what an honor to be able to glorify the LORD of ALL with our lives!

The Lord is stirring something new inside of me. I feel excited and nervous and inadequate. I still don't know all that the future holds, and I don't quite have any clear direction to share with you, but new ideas are forming. I don't have it all together, but I decided that tonight was the night to begin blogging again in an attempt to reconnect with beloved friends and family, and be transparent about the work that God is doing in my heart and life.

To God be the glory, now and forever!


Love from across the miles,