“Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)
On Monday I told the story of how God guided me back into the classroom, by taking us out of the Arizona desert “oven”, and placing us into the “freezer” of northern Ontario, Canada. My wife and I now found ourselves both working in our God-given fields: She as a Speech-Language Pathologist, and I as a French teacher.
My new assignment was to teach French to English-speaking kids in an English school. I was assigned several different classrooms covering all of the elementary years. Although I had never taught little children before, I was so excited to be back in the classroom that I was sure there would be no problems arising.
And there weren’t. At least not for the first hour of my first school day. But then a huge problem arose. As a rotary teacher, I didn’t have my own classroom and was expected to teach in the home rooms of each class. This, in itself, shouldn’t have been a problem, except that the school was an older one, built in an open concept, back in the day when it was thought individual classes shouldn’t have to be in individual classrooms. This meant that there were no walls separating the classes. Again, in theory this shouldn’t have been a problem; however it was discovered during my first class that first day that I spoke too loudly, and the other classes in the same room of that open concept school were disturbed by my teaching…
You see, I believe whole-heartedly that you need to motivate the students to have fun in your class. Especially if you are teaching a government-required class such as French that the English-speaking families in the region didn’t see as necessary… So to motivate my students, I was dramatic. I told stories. I laughed and used music. In general, I was loud…
The problem wasn’t brought to my attention right away, however, and it was several weeks before anyone said anything to me. Unfortunately, during these several weeks, anger and frustration had grown in the other teachers in those open concept rooms. By the time it was brought to my attention that I was disruptive to the other classes, the tension in the air whenever I entered those open rooms was thick enough to cut with a knife.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t exactly change my teaching style, not with the students as excited about French as they had become. I prayed about the problem and I was impressed to speak to the principle about it. He found a small room that wasn’t being used for anything else, and that became my classroom. It was perfect. The other teachers couldn’t hear me, I didn’t disrupt their classes, my kids continued to be motivated and to have fun, and though the Grade 8 students were a bit difficult, all of them achieved my objective: They all learned French!
The lessons I learned from this experience were three-fold: Kids need to have fun when they learn, and the more fun they have, the better they will do. Secondly, I learned that I can ask my Heavenly Father to help me in any situation. Finally, I learned that it is important to respect the needs of others, even when it means I might have to make changes to my own behavior to accommodate them! That is what showing love and tolerance is all about! Forgiving, accepting and finding suitable compromises.
God is with you, too! Whatever problem you face, Just ask Him and He’ll give you the wisdom to overcome. Be prepared, however, to forgive, to accept others the way they are, and be willing to compromise. Who knows how God will answer your prayer. He may even produce an empty classroom just waiting for you to teach in it!
In His love,
(To view the entire “Lessons From the Classroom” devotional series, please click here.)