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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: From a Teacher's Journal
By Verna Cole Mitchell


It had been a week of “Who’s on First?” in my eighth grade English class. On Monday I was teaching how to identify the subject and verb of a sentence. I had just told the students that in an interrogative sentence, words in a verb phrase are often separated. Rachel asked, “What does ‘interrogative’ mean?”

I answered, “Question.”

Rachel asked again, “What does ‘interrogative’ mean?”

Again I responded, “Question.”

At this point, many of the students in the class became aware of the accidental by-play and began to laugh; then Rachel and I caught on and laughed with them.

On Friday students were reviewing subject identification. I had instructed them to find the verb first and then ask the question “Who?” or “What” in front of the verb to find the subject. For the practice sentence, “Who was that masked man?” I asked the question, “Who is the subject?”

When the students called out, “Man,” I said, “No, ‘Who.’”

When the students answered again, “Man,” I realized that not only did I need to teach predicate nominative, but also, we were off and running again with “Who’s on First?”

(Thank you, Lord, for the moments of humor in teaching that lighten the day.)

There have been many students whose memory lingers in my heart. One of those is Patrick. What a sweet person he was! Because of his very serious health problems, he was quite small for an eighth grader. It seemed to me the biggest thing about him was his smile. Each day when he came into the room, his first question was, “How are you today?” One day when I had much on my mind and forgot to smile when he came in, he said, “Smile, God loves you.” He loved jokes and riddles and would entertain the class with his comments.

Having Patrick in my class made me consider the priorities of my teaching. While I felt very responsible to help students learn basic communication skills for success in high school and later, I wondered, “What is my obligation to one who will not live, in all probability, to finish high school?” I decided that I would strive harder to make the learning process as meaningful as I could for the present, as well as for the future, and to maintain an atmosphere of warmth and caring and kindness so that my class would know they were more important to me than the subject matter we covered.

(Lord, let Your love shine through me.)

“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” So sang Mac Davis some years ago. It’s true that we of the teaching profession can, on occasion, be “know-it-alls.” Yet, we shouldn’t have too much difficulty being humble. Our students are more than eager to point out any mistakes we make.

Once again, just this week, I got my lesson in humility. My homeroom students were examining their new school yearbooks. Jamar said to me, “You sure do take a good picture.” I preened a little because I had thought my picture this year was pretty good, myself. Then he showed me the page with the snapshot of him I had taken early in the year.

“See?” he said.

(Heavenly Father, help me to be filled with a Christlike humility.)

I saw it on my way to school today splashed in large letters on the big rock in front of the high school: Jennifer loves Nick 4ever. This made me think of the whole concept of adolescent romance. Let’s start with “4ever.” That, in terms of teen-age love, can be as brief as three days; however, what young love lacks in longevity, it makes up for in intensity. It’s like lightning bolts strike these young victims, and they sizzle. The next thing you know, that stupendous love has fizzled and is no more.

(Lord, may my love for You be deeper every day, never fizzling.)

(Thank you, dear Father, for Friday!)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joe Moreland11/02/06
What a great insight into the mind of one teacher. I love how you look for God in the details of your life. Well written and easy to read. I have just one question...what's an interrogative?

Dennis Fletcher11/04/06
Nicely written, looks like someone wanted to be able to go back and remember things, possibly for the future. Easy to read and get involved, although, I personally want to know what happened to Patrick.
Jan Ackerson 11/05/06
Love these little snapshots from a teacher's life. I teach high school, and could write a very similar journal. Whether this teacher is fictional or real (you, perhaps?), it's a teacher that I'd love for my children to have.
Donna Haug11/07/06
On the Monday entry, you jumped to something that happened on Friday. I realize the topic was linked, but in a journal you would not know what would happen on the following Friday. I like it when I stop to think about small events in my day and think of what the Lord would want me to learn through it. Thanks for the reminder to do that.
Jacquelyn Horne11/01/07
Waht an interesting life, teaching. I enjoyed this.