Because life is a series of edits

Take a Ride on The Educator

In Westminster on August 17, 2007 at 5:30 pm

I realize most of my posts this August have had to do with my new teaching gig, but allow me just one more to serve as closure to what the last two weeks (and really the last four months) have been. I promise I’ll venture into different territories of new blog topics next week.

School officially started Wednesday morning and the last two days have been a fun but frantic experience, kind of like our last Six Flags trip in July when, while riding The Boss, I realized my glasses had slipped out of my shorts pocket and were bouncing around somewhere between me and my side of the coaster car. Let’s just say that, at seventy miles an hour on the roughest wooden rollercoaster I’ve ever ridden, there’s not much one can do but pray, hang on with one hand, and blindly grab for whatever feels like vision with the other.

How’s that for a simile to explain my first days of teaching?

Seriously, the first three days have been great. Exhausting, but great. I have around 110 students (mostly freshman and sophomores, as well as an occasional junior new to the school) and have worked really hard at learning their names this week. Thankfully, the kids have been forgiving: for instance, Spencer, who I called Billy for an entire class period, didn’t say a word until one of my other students raised his hand on Spencer’s behalf and graciously said, “Um, Mr. Dunham, his name’s Spencer.” All three of us have a special bond now.

I survived the world’s warmest chapel on Wednesday (900 people in a small gym with no air conditioning on yet another 100+ degree day), cheerfully shared my classroom with about two dozen other staff needing/wanting to use it (I teach in the school’s conference room and have officially stopped calling it “my room”), and made it through today’s first (timed) fire drill without losing one student to a fiery (if hypothetical) death.

So far, I’ve only had one student transfer out of my section to the other section of Ethics (and she swears it was because of a schedule conflict and not me). And, I’ve already had my first girl crying in the classroom (not because of anything I did – she walked in that way, and all I could do was offer her a tissue and tell her to let me know if I could help).

We’ve had some great discussions about ethics as the process of arriving at moral conclusions; establishing and maintaining a convicted civility in the midst of heated debates; the many different biases we have in approaching the Bible; and the importance of understanding the Old Testament Covenant(s) as the foundation of any study of the New Testament. Miracle of miracles, most of the kids actually seemed interested in all of the above.

I’ve been surprised at how fast prep and lunch periods go by, how long-winded I can be in making a simple point, and how much I’m already learning about becoming a better teacher by having the chance to teach the same material two (New Testament) and three (Ethics) times a day. It’s been good to keep what seems to work, as well as highly developmental to adapt what doesn’t – all without enough time to over-analyze it, but adjust on the fly instead.

All that to say, we’re off like a herd of turtles. I have to remind myself I don’t have to cram everything I want to teach about biblical life and living into one class period; instead, I have 177 days left in the school year to figure out how to help my students discover for themselves what God desires them to know. In many cases, I’ll be discovering with them and for me as well.

Thanks to all those who contributed counsel and advice in the previous post, as well as to those who prayed for these first days and endured my conversational redundancy (both on the blog or in person) about getting ready to teach. It feels good to get going, and I’ll post the occasional update or funny story here to keep you in the loop.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to living (and writing about) life in general here, with the hope and prayer that I might teach my students to do the same in theirs.

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  1. I remember my first days each semester. Feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I was going to get everything done. And, of course, needing to be reminded that I had a whole semester to accomplish the entire semester’s worth of work. Funny to hear that the teachers/profs might have been feeling the same anxiety!!

  2. Thanks for the update. I had been wondering how it was going.

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