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Topic: Learning for Life (08/23/04)
TITLE: Day of Days
By Jennifer Deibel
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It was my first year of teacher training and I had been assigned to this classroom as a reading assistant. I couldn’t wait for party day to come; to watch the children as they scampered and scurried about with sticky fingers and smiling faces. I arrived at the classroom just a few minutes early, to make sure that I didn’t miss any of the festivities.
Tables were set up in different areas throughout the room, each with a different activity. On one table sat fixings for a snack. On another table were construction paper, glue, scissors, tape, markers, and glitter. Table after table offered a new and exciting addition to the party. However, one table sat alone with no wiggly children, no eager squeals and whispers of anticipation. On this table lay a stack of white paper with printing on them. As one might imagine, this table did not hold anyone’s’ attention for long so I soon joined some of the children in admiring other areas of play.
As the party began, my assignment was crowd control, and general helper. Over the low roar of the giggles, shouts, and requests for different items to be passed I heard a voice of panic. I turned to see who it was and saw Evan, a struggling reader I had been working with, sitting with his group at the “boring” table. Everyone else was sitting with heads low to the table, pencils waving frantically in the air as they wrote furiously. Evan, however, was rocking back and forth, head in his hands proclaiming, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! O my gosh!” I hurried over and quickly asked Evan if everything is ok. Words seemed to escape Evan as he starred wide-eyed at the seasonal word-search that lay before him on the table.
Evan looked up at me with helpless eyes as if to say, “Please help me. I’d really rather not cry in front of my friends.” So, being the fully trained educator that I, uh, wasn’t, I consoled him saying, “Oh! These are fun! I’ll sit here with you and when you get stuck, we’ll work on it together.” This did not seem much comfort to poor Evan, but he agreed. Slowly he straightened up in his chair, placed his right index finger under the first letter at the top left of the word-search. “B….Br…Brn….” Suddenly it dawned on me that Evan thought he had to read the word search! What was meant to be a word-search had turned into a giant, un-ending, un-readable word!
“Oh, Evan,” I cried, “Don’t worry, son! You don’t have to read it!” A look of relief, joy, and elation came over Evan’s face as he sighed and slumped back in his chair. We went on to discover together what to do and he set to work, with a grin from ear to ear. As I watched Evan search for word after word, I felt a tugging at my heart. How many times have I, unsure of the directions yet too embarrassed to seek guidance, set about a task so formidable and impossible that I had to fight tears just to save face? How many times has that Still, Small Voice had to catch my attention and say, “You don’t have to do this”?
I learned a valuable lesson on that day of days. The things and pressures of this world form around us until we are lost in a sea of un-ending, un-readable messes that seem impossible to figure. Our own lack of education in the Truth makes the most simple and enjoyable tasks foreboding and scary. Evan showed me that even if I lack the tools, I don’t lack the directions. I have the great Teacher sitting, arm around me, guiding my very steps. I don’t have to panic; I don’t have to do it alone. I don’t have to rely on my own understanding of the way things work. All I have to do is ask Him to show me what to do, and follow His lead. Oh, what a lesson learned for life!