Saturday, October 26, 2013

Words for the Upcoming School Holiday Period

Last week I read a quotation from Pope John Paul I.  He was talking about a professor at Bologna University and this is what he said: "Giosu's Carducci ... was of the race of those who say: 'To teach John Latin, it is not enough to know Latin - one must also know and love John.'  And again: 'The value of the lesson depends on the preparation.'"  This short passage speaks to my experience recently and soon in the future.

Yesterday 2/3 of the students left the school for their "summer" break.  They will be gone for more than two months.  On November 8, the remaining 1/3 will also leave, this time for good because the Senior 3s will likely be assigned to a new school for their last three years of secondary school and the S6s will graduate.  The night before the students left, the various Catholic movement groups on campus had a going away party where the S3s and 6s said a farewell song and the other students gave individual tribute to them.  As I looked at the faces of the girls standing on the stage who were singing their goodbye song, I had to hold back tears from the thought of those girls leaving and not coming back.  It was bizarre because I can't even tell you the names of most of the girls, but I know their faces and I have memories of playing cards, untying a human knot, eating dinner, teaching, and traveling to Gisenyi with them.  I asked myself two questions during that night:
  1. How do full-time educators do it?  How do they bond with students and grow to care for them over 1, 2, 3, or 4 years and then watch them disappear every single year?  Either they get used to it or it's always brutal.
  2. If this is how I feel after only two months with the students, what will it be like when I say goodbye to all of them after another seven (I subtracted the two months I won't see them in November and December) or nineteen (if I renew for another year) months?  Gosh, it will be heart-wrenching.
These thoughts and emotions connect to the first part of the quotation by Pope John Paul I.  I do want to teach the students well, but more importantly, I want to know and love them.  Odds are, ten years from now, they won't remember what I taught, but they will remember my example and how I did or didn't love them.  I hope they remember me for loving them well.

The second part of the quotation applies to what comes next for me during this "summer" break.  I anticipate my work hours will be boring since I won't have the students to spend time with, but one good thing is that I will have plenty of time to prepare lesson plans for the upcoming school year.  Since that feels like doing homework every single day, I'm not looking forward to it, but I know it is necessary and helpful for my effectiveness as a teacher.  As John Paul I said, my preparation makes or breaks the lesson.  Once I get started on the work, I'll probably enjoy it, but the procrastinator in me is thinking it will be terrible. 

Besides working on lesson plans, I'll also help organize the books in the library.  Since I like to organize things and I like books, that could be fun.

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