Friday, March 18, 2011

Teaching and Learning

This week started out a bit rough. I had a few parent teacher conferences that didn't go as well as I had dreamed. I always imagined my first conferences as a teacher would be filled with glowing praise from parents who could barely contain their excitement that their children were doing so well in my class. Well... needless to say, reality was somewhat different.

In my student teaching placements I printed as much as I wanted, had access to whatever books I needed and had every manipulative and game a teacher could imagine; but this is Cambodia, and teaching here is an entirely different story. I have to be innovative and work with what I have. It's a challenge and I love it, but this week I let myself become frustrated.
I became discouraged that the only games my classroom has are ones I made from egg cartons and recycled cereal boxes. Instead of being thankful for all the amazing books I have, I thought about all the books that I would love for my students to have. After dwelling on everything that I didn't have, I felt despite the heart and soul I put into my job, it just wasn't enough.

So what would any girl do in such a situation? Why of course I wrote a tearful letter home to my mother. My first publicly shed tears in Cambodia, yes... I complained to my mom, a veteran teacher, that I had no clue what I was doing and that I felt I was failing my students. True to her nature, my mom wrote a very encouraging, "stop feeling sorry for yourself" letter. She told me that whenever I feel discouraged to look into the faces of my students, because they are the reasons I am teaching; of course, she was right. Just today I had a St. Patrick's Day lesson planned. We were going to cut out clovers and talk about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The craft didn't even get started because the children were so interested in the trinity and asking questions about going to heaven. For the next 45 minutes, our mixed group of Buddhists, atheists, and Christians talked about Jesus' love and what it means in our lives. As I sat on my plastic chair looking at the precious faces before me, I was once again filled with the purpose of why I came to teach in this country in the first place. Fears over my own inadequacies fell away in light of the fact that God is setting eternity in the hearts of my students.

I hope that you too will be encouraged, as I am every day, by these joyful faces :)




  1. Sorry to hear your conferences didn't go as planned. I just love your pictures. Those children are so cute and just remember what you are doing for them. You care about them and give it your all and this will make a difference in their lives. We are spoiled here in the states and it drives me crazy to hear teachers complain. I wonder why some even go into teaching. I just love the class I am in, but it makes me sad to know it will all come to an end all too quickly. I am not sure when the teacher will come back, I hope she extends here leave. If she doesn't I will be done on the 8th of April. I have to keep reminding myself, it is really not my classroom! I think of you often as I look around the school and see tons of materials. You would love even a third of it!! This experience will help to appreciate things even more...I know that I am thankful especially with remembering all the things that you don't have. Hang in there girl, I know you are doing a great job. Keep up the good work!! Love ya!

  2. What an excellent St. Patrick's day lesson! Teaching about the Trinity brings and awe and reverence of our indescribably great God. It also helps to establish the deity of Jesus and the fact that he was in the beginning with God the Father. "By Him (Christ) were all things created, He was before all things, and by Him all things are held together." (Colossians 1:16, 17) Unfortunately this is not the Jesus that most people know.
    May God continue to fill you with purpose.
    These beautiful faces are encouraging to look into.