Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teaching Journal 08-09
Day 26, Wednesday, October 15

A Grateful Heart
An old church hymn asks for "a grateful heart that loves and blesses all", and this morning I got to thinking about the word "all". The hymn doesn't say "blesses some", or "blesses the good things that happen", or "blesses students that do what I want them to do". It says "all" -- as in everything that happens, everything that comes my way, the successes and failures, the helpful and unhelpful, the classroom triumphs and and the classroom disasters. Every aspect of my life, the hymn suggests, should be unreservedly blessed. I should bless, or show mercy, to everything that happens, because, as Shakeseare said, mercy, or blessings, should not be "strained", but should be handed out the way "the gentle rain of heaven" falls upon the earth -- indiscriminately, unconditionally, thoroughly. Rain falls on the bad and the beautiful, and so should my blessings. As a teacher today, I hope to remember that.
It was interesting to see a boy smiling and enjoying his friends' company this afternoon, not too many minutes after receiving a low grade on an essay. The resiliency of children is always refreshing to observe. To this spirited lad, the low grade was like a passing thundershower -- something to be endured until the next comradely activity comes along.
While a 9th grade boy was speaking during a discussion, I couldn't help but notice how nervous he was. His face was flushed and his breathing seemed broken and disordered. His young words sounded like they were loaded with fears and insecurities. Each one came forth with great labor.Such hard work it is to be a 14-year-old English student!

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