There’s a corner of my classroom that got fuller this week. It’s the corner right behind the chair where I spend a good part of my day teaching small groups. It’s ‘Teacher Appreciation Week’ and I have truly felt appreciated in so many ways. Here is just one of them.
I work with a sassy little kindergarten student. He’s quite the competitor. One of the games we play involves using dice to teach the ‘counting up’ strategy, one-to-one correspondence, and number recognition. He LOVES to win. Well, he’s gonna have to be a tough cookie to overcome some things, so I don’t ease up on him much. But he won like three games in a row in our last few sessions. (He prays for God to give him doubles, so maybe that’s a good strategy…) I also let him move ahead a space when he can tell me what number I landed on, so that helps him get ahead as well. Well, today, he saw that I was about to lose the game again, and the little sassy 5 year old said he was going to skip a turn…and then another turn…and he hugged me out of the blue and let me roll the dice. And I accepted. Because when grace is given, well, I’m thinking it’s a good thing to receive it…even when it’s from a 5 year old who seems to be suddenly realizing that maybe he doesn’t have to be the only one who wins. I’m thinking this was empathy at it’s best. Learning to count is an important skill. Empathy is priceless.
Being a teacher does require patience. It’s no joke. In games with this little guy, the dice probably fell 20 times, and we had countless distractions including seeing a bug, having to run to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, and shared stories of what he had done that day. We read the story, “If You Give a Mouse A Cookie” today, and I laughed with the student about how the boy might feel, but wondered if my little friend could identify a bit with the distractibility of the little mouse who was always on to the next thing. But even with all of the distractions, he’s learning. I’m thinking that most often, the best learning comes in the climate of good relationship. It’s obvious that this little guy is learning so much, but he’s also teaching (me). The amazing thing about being a teacher is that we are constantly on the receiving side of the gifts, the lessons, the grace. On this Thankful Thursday, that is one of the gifts that I’m most thankful for.
P.S. Counting is an important skill. Especially when it comes to count our blessings one by one.
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”