The Unrelenting and Re-Lent-ing

Forgive my terrible pun and the forced brevity of this reflection (Ha! Just kidding, I don’t know how to be concise). It is past eleven pm on a school night and I have not slept more than five and a half hours yet any weekday night this week or last. I am bursting at the seams with thoughts about my student teaching so far (that I will share on schooldaydreams when I finally get to writing them, God-willing), but my mind is also constantly barraged by ideas, reflections, regrets, and revisions of the lessons that I have been and will be teaching! I feel like there is not a spare moment in my day when I am not thinking about teaching–it is an unrelenting cycle of questions and concerns about what I’ve been doing well or doing poorly and what I can do tomorrow to make up for my mistakes today, and which student was absent or looked lost and which students do I need to check in with and how can I make time to talk to them discreetly while the others are doing group work and what group work and how long will it be, etc., etc., etc.! says the King in The King and I! That’s all I remember from that movie, actually. That and something about ballroom dancing.

I know that this level of work and stress is really normal at the beginning of any teaching experience, and I have to remind myself that it was actually far worse last year during my first week teaching in Andong. Still, my heart is so ambitious and I want to do so many things for my students that it is frustrating when time runs out, when the conversation is going so well and then one student offers a response that is COMPLETELY wrong or besides the point and I have no idea how to get back on track without shutting him down, or when I spend a whole ten minutes discussing the meaning of a metaphor and at the end the students look more confused and unconvinced than at the beginning.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m actually really enjoying my student teaching experience and classes have gone well enough for the most part, but I am putting a lot of pressure on myself to teach perfect lessons every day and every class and we all know that that’s just not reality. So in the midst of my own unrelenting pursuit of perfection, I need to remind myself to listen to what I tell the students–you don’t have to be perfect! Just try your best!–and essentially, chill out. Go to sleep. Stop overplanning and then being frustrated when you don’t get to all the things you had planned to say or do!

It is very fitting that today, my third day of taking over the class, my first day of feeling like I’m not really sure how long I can keep this level of planning up!, is the beginning of March and the beginning of Lent! My goals for Lent are first to stop watching so many YouTube videos (and by so many I mean I need to stop watching them entirely during this period so that I can actually control my senseless addiction to clicking on video after video with ever diminishing returns…), and to take that time I would have wasted and to channel it into much more important and productive activities, such as prayer, reading my Bible, and SLEEP. I need to re-Lent and relent a little on my crazy self-judging battle plan for teacher perfection. This is probably not entirely coherent, but it is now eleven thirty pm and I am going to sleep.

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