Meet the Form Class!

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All the talk about our deployment in 2016 is speculative and at best tentative, although it would not be far from the truth to say it is likely I will not be teaching them next year.

It is no secret that teachers have our ‘favourite’ ‘best fit’ classes; I am truly blessed that other than my very first form class in 2012, I had the chance to enjoy that kind of camaraderie and rapport with this class of munchkins who have won me so many times over this year with their awesomeness.

  1. When I shared with them the importance of sincerely showing appreciation to others and made them write ‘thank you’ notes to all their subject teachers, they happily obliged – some of those personal thank you messages so honest and thoughtful.

    (So many teachers were immensely touched when they received the handwritten thank-you notes. Hope they keep encouraging others to become better versions of ourselves!) 

  2. All 43 of them showed up – properly attired and on time – on the last day of school.
  3. All 43 of them showed up on time for the entire duration of their examinations. (I was hugely impressed also because of the haze.)
  4. Three-quarters of the class brought along gifts (wrapped!) under $5 so we could have our year-end gift exchange! :) I exchanged a deco-tape roller with a fragrance incense, a choc bar and some pens.
  5. They unanimously agreed to stay behind for pizza when the pizza could only be delivered an hour later! (Impressed by their class spirit, not their desire for free food.)
  6. The student representatives of the class helmed and prepared their service learning presentation entirely on their own – videos, PPT slides, reflections, Q&A. We teachers only gave them the guiding questions and criteria, and some teenyweeny advice. This really won me over – took a huge load off my chest, especially when some other classes had roles reversed when teachers prepared everything (right down to the script) for the students.
  7. The student groups really took to the children at PCF – and learned from working with the teachers there – perhaps through some challenging tough ways. They may not have impressed PCF completely, but I could see them grow as individuals as they challenged themselves to break out of their comfort zone.
  8. They were mighty disappointed because they did not have time for the boomnet activity at the level camp because we had to take the first ferry back. But after the initial disappointment (“Really? Couldn’t we just try? Maybe we could go now? What if…?”) they accepted it graciously and made the most out of the flying fox pool, just hanging out as a class and playing in the water.
  9. For their VIA project, the kids went to a little village in Bintan and helped to tile the floors with bricks for the village school. Seeing the way they all (yes, even the princesses) got down to work and interacted and played with the children made me proud.
  10. The class committee spearheaded the class tee-shirt orders – sourced and liased with the vendor, gathered the names of the students, feedback and a host of possible tee-shirt designs (although they all looked questionable at best with florals, weeds and skulls and I ended up helping with the design.).
  11. They are receptive to feedback. If you reason with them and set clear but realistic goals, there will almost always be visible improvement – be it about using their handphones, being on time for school, greeting a teacher properly, arranging the furniture neatly etc.
  12. They are hungry to learn. Some boys automatically started on their corrections on their end-of-year exam paper, and this was the dialogue it triggered:

    Me: Wow, are you doing corrections? I need to run through the rest of the questions to check for marking errors – there may not be time for that.

    Boys: You don’t want us to do corrections? Don’t you want us to improve??

    Me: Well… [to the whole class] If I print the marker’s report – it shows you the answers, and reasons why the marker accepted or did not accept some answers. You can attach that to your exam paper then and go through it later on your own. Would that be helpful? Who would be interested?

    80% of the hands shot up in the air.

  13. We won Second Place in the SG50 National Day Inter-class Competition! Some of the kids really impressed us with their sporting spirit – to dress up as  SG50 national day icons!
  14. The boys came in second place in the inter-class frisbee competition for Secondary 3s. (You should have seen them – they light up and transform on the field.) Then they offered up their extra medals to us teachers on Teachers’ Day. The girls came in a close third too!
  15. We won the Best Class Award for the Normal Academic stream in our school! :D This takes into consideration their attendance, results, achievements, attitude etc.

Thank you, 3T1, for giving much and striving hard this year. :)

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Peace and Joy

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Thursday, the 18th of December, was a significant day for many of us. I was worried for many things, with all sorts of thoughts floating in and out of my head. The following scenarios kept playing out in my head: What if the cohort did the worse out of the previous cohorts and was terribly unimpressive? What if the students did unexpectedly terribly? What if we did not do our students justice? 

I was not freaking out – I was still enjoying my little K reality drama show the night before and having a very restful sleep. But those thoughts did nibble at my mind every now and then. After a while, I realised that my biggest concern wasn’t the results analysis or what the school would think of the quality of our teaching, but the kids. This would mean so much to them, not just English per se, but all the other subjects together. This would mark the end of their journey of their Secondary education with us, and the start of a new one somewhere else. And what else could that be full of but hope and anticipation? I wish and prayed that they would see it as just that, no matter what the outcome of their N levels are. I prayed that they might have the wisdom and insight to recognise that every one of them would have a different path to travel, one that would suit them, one that would inspire them.

It gave me peace to know that the Sovereign Lord is in control of every single one of their lives, what we have no control over.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

It also struck me that I have so much to be thankful for. Just when I felt extremely drained after close to four years of teaching them, it took the 18th of December to remind me why I enjoyed teaching in the first place. God is so good – this is the first cohort of students I have taught since 2011 as a beginning teacher, and it is such a privilege to be able to teach them English since four years ago – my very first cohort of students I have seen through to graduation. Of course, there are many things I have done (or not done) which I am not terribly proud of. There is always something more that could be done, and I could never compare to Jean or other inspiring teacher figures who have really chosen to give up almost everything else for their students. But I try, and I know that this is one class that I probably have the most personal relationship with.

I remember going through the feelings of anger, diasppointment, frustration with them; they have driven me up to boiling point, to my wits’ end. But by the beginning of this year, I think we have come to an acceptance of each other: my temper and whinyness on some days, their laziness on (most) other days, but our tolerance and acceptance towards all those things. It isn’t the most professional thing to do, but this is one class I felt I could rant and share about certain things with them, without worrying that they might hate or misunderstand me, perhaps because they have seen the ugliest and best sides of me, and I them.

Coming one full circle with this class of students is truly an amazing experience. I can truly say that I have grown to love and care for every one of them, even the most trying students. And I thank God for this wholesome experience.

So how did we do? By God’s divine grace, our school achieved 100% passes and an improvement in both the percentage passes and percentage distinctions from previous years. The breakdown of results analysis was not all that fantastic – I had expected some students to do better by 1 or 2 grades. This was where I felt we fell short, and we could have done more for these students. I realised that God gave us again, just enough, to make us realise that it is He who holds everything in His hands. If he had given us too much, I may have jumped through the roof and forgot that it is God who has always brought us through. So thank you, Lord, for your wisdom and grace is upholding me and my students all these years.

Chin Up… ?

Most of the time the entries I begin typing do not make it to the public blogsphere. By the time I am halfway through my posts, I either A, lose focus, B, have received sufficient therapeutic release, or C, think they are too negative and unconstructive to be shared. (Which may be the outcome of this post too.) They eventually end up as drafts or in the dumps and forgotten forever.

Disappointment 

Just in the past two days, I have received 5 emails from one of my bosses with a list of to-dos. This may have come at a bad time when there were other pressing matters I had on my mind to settle, and the onslaught of emailing what was required of us to do, but it did not sit well with me.

I thought of what I expected a boss to be, and these are some qualities I want to make sure I meet should I end up taking on roles with higher authority in future.

A mentor who nurtures

A leader is not just someone who delegates or gives directives. It is easier to give instructions than to develop and groom your team – the difference being the former does not require a personal investment or interest, while the latter demands your consideration and your time. You cannot ‘groom’ people under you if you do not first care for them and seek to understand them. But sometimes just a genuine concern for your staff can lift them up and drive them to work heartily.

A leader by example

You may not be a charismatic speaker or a highly-influential head of the pack, but if you lead by example, you gain respect among your team. We always speak fondly of bosses who would grind their teeth with you, take on the excess of the load, or just simply not shirk responsibilities. On the other hand, bosses whose intention is mainly to relief their own responsibilities is hardly deserving of one’s respect. Moreover, a leader cannot lead if you did not experience what your team is going through – you cannot relate to the challenges, and you surely cannot guide the team to greater heights without that shared understanding and support.

I am reaching my limits of annoyance because all I see are directives and forwarded emails. There is no evidence of one supporting the team or understanding the task at hand when all one does is email. Furthermore, if bosses do not experience the dirt for themselves, they can not begin to understand the amount of time and effort the task requires.

A person who thinks with his heart and mind

You need to plan and delegate and plan even more. But as a leader, you need to understand that your team members is your resource and your strength – and you must envision plans with your intellect and your compassion. You must understand that your men needs to be encouraged and supported: One may have the ability, but not the heart to do a task. Similarly, one may have the passion in a certain task but lacks the support and experience to do it well with confidence. You need to string all those multiple complexities together and paint a better picture with it. Delegating irresponsibly without keeping in mind your team’s strengths, interests and welfare, is an act of long-term suicide. If you fail to do that, your team may just feel undervalued and annoyed at your perceived incompetency.

Adopt a positive mindset 

That being said, I am trying very hard to adopt a positive mindset towards the excess trimmings of my work and not be bogged down by other inefficiencies and disappointments. A colleague at work reminded me that when we put things in perspective by constantly reminding ourselves that we work for God and not for man, many other things fall more sensibly into place.

I may not see eye to eye with people I work with or work under, but it does not mean that I challenge every rule I am introduced and grumble at every setback I face. When my bosses throw unreasonable and inconvenient demands at me, one response we can have is to cringe and complain and growl in angst and frustration (which I must admit has been my reaction all along), and another (which may make less sense to some) is to suck it up and do what we were allotted.

I hope that this intense period is a time to build up our resilience – and this period ends soon.

 

Back In Full Swing

It feels like things are back in full swing after this week, with gym on Monday, CCA on Tuesday, CCA meeting and prayer meeting on Wednesday, Poly Open house visit on Friday, and CCA Display Day on Saturday. Teachers are falling sick and I myself am not spared from the symptoms of flu and a raspy throat. I am hoping next week will be less tedious and more compassionate to all of us.

 

Don’t Know Where To Go

About two weeks ago I went to Changi Airport to send a friend off. He had come at the beginning of the year and was assigned to work with me. At first a little aloof, we soon warmed up to become friends. It was comfortable working with him and exchanging different opinions. He was also sweet, giving little gifts like a birthday and teachers’ day card, and graciously accepting mine as well. Being able to work well and honestly with someone is something I have learnt not to take for granted. He was a blessing in 2013, and may we go on to bless others as well.

As I sat in the car after, air-con at full blast, staring at the iconic Singapore Changi Airport control tower from down below, watching the number on the clock switch, it suddenly all fell into place: I had no idea what I wanted to do, nor where I wanted to go. I had planned to find a quiet spot in the airport to do some reading and writing, I had brought my novella, my school readings (just in case), my journal, and had even spent hours debating whether I should have packed along my laptop, cable and hard disk (just in case). I was such a person – one who could not really figure out what she wanted, and hence was better off preparing for anything and everything.

Wherever the tides would take me, that would have been my motto. I would do what my heart felt like doing. Well, it turned out that that morning, I had no idea what my heart felt like doing. Maybe it did not feel like doing anything. So I sat there in the car, thinking about where to go and what to do the entire rest of the day, and wondering what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go in my life.

In the past, it was easy to sweep away the residue that accompanied the difficult questions and say, Let’s just wait and seeMy priority to teach became my verbal promise to whoever asked about “my future plans” and a weak excuse for my indecision. That really meant that I need not make any effort to get what I wanted, heck, I was too lazy to even decide what I wanted to do. Making decisions require effort, and the actions that are required to follow after can persuade one to run in the opposite direction. But at this moment, I had a few options presented me and they all require me to make some kind of effort.

Further study? I need to do some research, plan some budget, speak to some people, fill up lots of paperwork and apply for the courses. Some of my colleagues and friends have done that – I look at them juggle the workload and I think them mad. But secretly I applaud them for their desire to translate their dream into reality.

A managerial position? I need to do some soul-searching, set some objectives and clearly defined goals, then work towards equipping myself if I prayerfully want to contribute in that area. This scares me because I do not see any like-minded colleagues working with me, in fact, the opposite is true, and the politicking is stifling. But if God calls you to play a particular role, there is nothing shunworthy about it, is there.

Just a teacher, more and more effective? I really enjoy interacting with the students and teaching them. But can I stretch myself in this aspect in this school?

Transfer? There are just so many reasons shouting against it, but I am dying of curiosity to see how other schools are like and if I would enjoy it better there.

Stay? Can I stay and be a more resilient and effective worker, able to contribute to the students and the school?

On a less serious note, a last option would be to focus on finding a partner and settling down. Ha ha ha. Decisions, decisions, decisions, aye.

In our stride

One day ago I was dealt with a rather overwhelming blow at work. To sum it up, there were some deployment changes that meant my effort and time put into work the past few weeks are entirely discounted and no longer contributes to my preparation for school next year. My supervisor unfortunately, did not have the courtesy to explain this change to me personally, but assumed that I would do her bidding – as always. To top it off, my new role seemed thoughtlessly thrust upon me for the sake of convenience. I felt that I was tasked to do the “dirty work” because others did not bother with it enough. I felt hurt and undermined, because I felt disrespected as a person. As an employee, I would suck it up and do it, but as a person, I was angry and upset at the way she handled things.

I realised I spend a great deal of time moping and brooding over something that bothers me. I was hurling words of anger and angst all around, and upon hindsight, am not proud of it. I was with a good friend yesterday afternoon, who accepted me as a rather emotional companion. (Thank you, See.) I confided in several of my teaching friends, thankful that I had at least a sister-in-Christ who was committed to praying for me to get back on track. Even that was not enough, I bought Auntie Anne’s pretzels for supper, and ate it before dinner because I was just feeling so “blah”.

My first thoughts as I opened my eyes this morning, was about the same matter. Obviously, I had not found peace before the sun set yesterday, and had harboured my frustrations and worries throughout the night. On some level, it must have plagued my dreams. It was a large burden that weighed my mind down.

Then I opened my devotional, for my Quiet Time with God this morning. The reading was on working for Christ. We forget that our God is sovereign – and that every little detail in our life is planned and rolled out by Him. I forget that it is not my supervisor who threw me such a heavy matter to deal with, but God, who allowed me to be thrown such a heavy matter to grow from. I forget my place. I grumbled, I complained, and I threw a fit because I forget that my God is greater than any supervisor or employer I had, have or will ever have.

I rest my head in shame, because certainly God knew the conflict it would cause in me. I must not forget that my Creator God has things in His hand.

It does change the game. I know that I will submit to higher authority and the lot they have allotted me, not because they are higher authority, but because God is the highest authority. This is not just a game of playing your pawns on a chess board; this is a game of staying faithfully to the calling of your Lord.

And this is a game which we have already emerged victors. This is a game we have already won.

Giving Thanks for 2013

And with a blink of an eye, the academic year 2013 has come to a close. There are still school camps, competitions, projects and supplementary lessons that require students to come to school, but for the next two months, I do not need to stand before 40 students, being conscious of my every word and action, and always reflective and aware of how I can persuade, inspire, perform, teach, and discipline children.

This year has been a greater struggle that the year(s) before. I find myself more critical and cynical of the school management, the education system, and the policies and ‘codes of conduct’ that prescribe our actions and behaviour, and more significantly, our attitudes. Being critical is good, but cynicism is something that we would all want to get rid of because it causes you to shrivel up inside dry.

I am also definitely trying to get a firm grip on my spiritual life. Many people would say it is impossible to effect change or fight the system, or achieve a healthy work-life balance yada yada, but I refuse to give in to that belief because we are promised that “[we] can do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength”, and because our Lord has not failed us in his promises, I can not betray Him like that and be someone “of little faith”.

But God is good. And for all the distraught and heartache this year, my form class has been a dear. There is a sense of “homecoming” when I walk into that classroom, and when you see how some of them have grown or matured throughout the year, it certainly warms your heart. We had a mini class celebration with certificates, awards and prizes, birthday presents and personalised cards, as well as a birthday cake. A group of students presented Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” (which I failed to record, apart from the last 3 seconds when the class was clapping for them). The talent show was definitely a lot more meaningful than the Talent Show at the level meeting.

My co-form and I realised that our class is a reflection of us, their form teachers. None of us are overtly affectionate and we hardly express our affection and gratitude openly. It has been an entire year, but other than our class photographs, we did not rush to have other class photographs taken. Even when my class chairperson (who I demoted three weeks ago) said that he would like us to be his form teachers next year, he had to do so with a certain swagger, and punctuate it with a, “I really mean it! From the bottom of my heart!” and even then, my co-form and I did not quite know how to react to that… rather unadulteratedly blunt and sweet expression of affection.

Then I realised that even when my class does not overtly show their appreciation or love through words or gifts or cheers, they do so through other means. Some students practised for hours and sang “I’m Yours”, some students say “hi” each time you walk past the class, some students do their part by cleaning the class, others change into the class tee-shirt during class celebrations, others stand around and offer you assistance when you need help to carry things. Some wait until everyone has left the classroom before they approach you for a photograph.

And being able to work with these children to see them develop and grow this year, has made me really excited to see them grow and mature more next year. If we see with our hearts and not just with our sight, we might just be able to realise how beautiful and pleasant the world actually is. How full of love the world might be, in all its various forms and strands.

And with this, I can only thank my God for my class of students who allowed me  a glimpse of the childlike to see the good in the world.

Still have our classrooms

The walls may have ears, but at least we still have our classrooms. 

 

It came and went, just as all things. They chose to take care of things in the most practical, careful, business-minded way. I wish they had given more thought to the persons involved, act out of kindness and grace to settle the matter, not out of eagerness to bring it to a clean close. 

This week has been an emotionally-gruelling week. Politics are becoming so real in the staffroom that I cannot close a blind eye to things that are happening to my friends, and pretend that everything is fine and dandy. I used to think that we could choose to be ignorant, but increasingly it has become clear that there is hardly a middle ground. When I choose to be ignorant and not take a stand pro-actively, I already choose subservience. Subservience is not submission. I think there are moments when we need to submit; but submitting to authority is far from being subservient and passive. 

More and more I realise that to some people, you are either standing on the left or the right. As much as I wish I could remain unnoticed and sit on the fence until I gained my spirit and confidence, being silent just automatically means you are in agreement. And perhaps with more experience in this institution, there are more and more things I cannot stand in agreement with and say nothing about. 

More than once this week, my convictions and beliefs have been challenged. I realise that the institution is a panopticon, and trust is a precious word you whisper. Will I be quiet and voiceless if somebody perpetuates the very beliefs and convictions I disagree with? If someone were to condescend your students or misjudge your colleagues, and you just keep quiet. What would that make me? 

I shared honestly with a friend this afternoon that if someone asked me to “think about the reason why you joined teaching”, my reason for signing that dotted line is because it granted me access to a scholarship for my university degree. I would be self-reliant, have an allowance and the opportunity for a paid trip overseas for student exchange. Given my familial circumstances, it was logical and practical and a blessing for me. Joining the profession held no beautiful ideals or promises for me. 

But our conversation gave me a glimpse of what my dream was when I first started out. I believed in Literature as an educational tool to reach out to the hearts and minds of young people, equip them with the necessary communication competencies to express themselves, to understand life, analyse situations, read people, and have a moral sensitivity towards the world. Education is a platform to develop people of character and intellect, and what better way to do so, than through literature, the subject of life? 

I remember as I recounted my secondary and junior college student days, what Literature meant to me and my peers. It inspired, gave meaning and empowered us to use words and language to do the same. If that was my starting point… where was I now? 

With that, I pray and plan for the next step. 

There are many lessons from this week. Place your trust in a firm foundation; and man is hardly a sure one. Be careful who you trust, because man always fails, but God does not. Is it against your conscience and goodwill to keep quiet when something is being said or done against your convictions and beliefs? If it is, then when and how will you stand up for it; or will you be content letting it be eroded over time? 

The Necessary Rethinking

With inconsiderable reluctance I turn my mind to the inevitable fact that school will reopen in just three days. I find myself counting the empty gaps in my timetable for the rest of the week – one and a half more free days – and drowning in insecure gladness. There is no more to anticipate, because there is nothing more beyond anticipation.

More than preparing ourselves mentally and physically to go back to school (no more late nights and late mornings, the headaches have become somewhat incessant these few days), it was also important to rethink the spiritual and emotional investment in this profession.

Two days ago I met a good friend and sister. Although we only meet once every half a year, she is someone who holds the mirror in front of you and forces you to look at yourself very truthfully. We did not dwell on the topic of teaching as there were other things on our minds, but not before she made me admit that I was doing “terrible” spiritually. No wonder there is no zest in my punch, no energy in my fight, no passion in my dance. “So why were we thinking about leaving again?” 

It does not take a genius to realise that one’s passion for their job is dwindling, or that one may be leaving the service to a different grazing field; but it does take a bit more to pin point the root of the problem if one has lost their source of strength. And yet it definitely takes much more than that to compel such a person to go back to Christ and stop being stubbornly self-reliant.

The prospect of no longer being bound to a school or the profession, in other words, being able to do something different is actually very appealing. But upon more serious rethinking, I needed to admit a few hard truths to myself:

  1. The drive to think about leaving (whether it is further studies, another job or another school) is fuelled by a negative, not positive force.That frustrates me, because I know that these thoughts are not pleasing to God, and will not be pleasing to anyone. I want to get out of feeling tired and bogged down all the time; I wish to get out of the regular drone of the day-to-day because I am dissatisfied with how I presently lead my life. And while yes there is room for dissatisfaction, that should prompt further reflection not escapism. In other ways, these thoughts are fuelled by a desire to have it easier than I do now.
  2. I have been running on my own adrenaline for the past two years, and I cannot expect to do so without my God.Where are the prayers and the tears, where are the cries for mercy and help out to a loving Saviour, in the past two years? My neck has been stiff and my heart has been hardened. Two years! Sometimes the sheer fact that I am surviving in school right now, is by the grace of God Himself.

    And lastly,

  3. If I do not right my relationship with God, there is not going to be any change.I will still be tired, unhappy, unable to deal with the challenges in the classroom, and wish to do less because I give myself the plain excuse that it is difficult to cope.

I am thankful for the prayer meeting cum teaching session last evening which I attended. While sharing what they have learned from their summer course in Regent College, I picked out a few hard truths that will hopefully plant itself firmly in my heart and drive the second semester coming up this year.

One topic that came up was this concept of “suffering” – and I broadened the definition of suffering to refer to anything we would consider “hardship”. Mum pointed out that we tend to imagine that a good, desirable life is one that is free of suffering and challenges and pain. And it struck me so hard because that seems to be precisely the starting point of my dissatisfaction.

This concept of ‘treating’ yourself to a movie, a good meal, or a luxurious holiday to make up for the tough circumstances you are facing, is precisely that. The innocent desire to pamper yourself once in a while, when taken too far, can be misconstrued into something that slowly nibbles at your drive and passion to give your all.

There have been many instances when I chose to gratify myself and justify it with the challenges faced at work. If I’m tired, it warrants a right to sleep or rest. If I’m sick of work, it is my right to do something that makes me happy. Yes, it is important to take care of our whole being, and make time for other activities and take a break. But perhaps I need to be clear where the line between excessive self-gratification and caring for the self is.

When we assume that life is suppose to be smooth-sailing, then we will also end up being unhappy when it gets tough. When work piles up and we feel that we have trudged through enough nonsense, we tell ourselves that we have reached the brim, the very top, and we will not take any more. There may be several redundant, unnecessary things on our to-do lists as dictated by the job scope laid out by our superiors, but as much as they annoy us, God says to submit to authority. If compiling a few more tables of data, or writing a few more reports is what my role calls for, then I should ask the Lord for strength and do it, unless I can help it.

That works for the classroom too. When the kids we teach presents a formidable daunting challenge that baffles and irritates us, what crosses my mind? Sometimes when I’m near my tipping point, I secretly wish that I could teach a different class of students. I would very much like the option of bowing out and sitting out of the match. In other words, I crave the easy way out.

And who in similar situations wouldn’t, if we have already been so ingrained with the idea that an easy life is a blessed one?

I should check myself constantly with the reminder that that is a fallacy – a blessed life is one where God is lord of, not one that is devoid of suffering and hardship. Even the Michael W. Smith song (I think) says the same thing: His strength is perfect, when our strength is gone. The Bible does not mention how followers of Jesus has a perfect, happy life – as much as we wish that for our family and friends – “Blessed birthday! May your life be filled with peace, love, and joy!” The Bible does however talk about how God’s grace is sufficient for us to tide through all suffering; and about how a blessed life is one of joy in the Lord’s redemptive work. Am I looking at this the right way?

Term 4 is going to be a really short term, cut even shorter by all the holidays. What will the rest of the year spell for me; will there be change in my life? Now many people may chide me for spending so much time thinking and rethinking this for the longest time. However at this moment, where life equals work, I think it is necessary to invest some thought and time into this life I currently lead.

It has been two years. What will the next year bring?

That Class of Students

There is always a class of students (or two) who seems to make teaching a greater challenge than it is. After 10 weeks of lessons compromised by disruptive student behaviour and an attitude bordering on defeatism, I honestly poured out everything I wanted to say to them in fifteen minutes today. I don’t know how much of these thoughts will translate into tangible action, but I couldn’t let things go just like that anymore. It is time to take the next course(s) of action. 

But I did not quite pray for them either. I have never prayed that God inspire them and help them to pay attention in class. I have never asked that God have mercy on those students who wants to learn and grant them a greater ability to concentrate and persevere in their work. O Lord, please help me and this class of students – to be inspired to work hard, to have their minds and hearts removed from other cares of the world, to enjoy the process of learning. 

May I be inspired to love them no matter how tough it seems, to care for them as individual persons, to be concerned for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being. Give me a greater heart to love – it is indeed easy to love when we think someone is deserving. But give us someone difficult, someone we think is undeserving, and how many of us could say we truly want the best for them and truly can love them? 

O God, now I know why we cannot be good teachers (or good anything) without You, and without Your love. Please empower me and give me the wisdom to deal with the struggles I face in the workplace. And face each struggle and challenge squarely in the face with joy and hope knowing that with our Lord, we can overcome.