Topics

B.C. Catholic Staff

Heart-work

Voices Feb. 15, 2019

"While popular opinion would believe that it is the teacher who instructs and informs, it was my students who truly showed me what it means to be a person of faith," wrote first-time Catholic teacher Edward Park. (BCC file photo / Don Gumabao)

The following blog exchange between a first-year Catholic school teacher and Rose Pillay, an educational consultant for the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese, originally appeared on Pillay’s professional blog Fail Better, where she reflects on her growth as an educator. We are republishing it for Catholic Schools Week.

First-Year Teacher: Hi Rose! I just wanted to thank you for all the help and support and guidance this past year. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by! Looking forward to next year and hopefully finding more balance :) Have a great summer and many blessings to you!

Rose: I love your ample use of the exclamation mark! Hope it is an indication of a fantastic end to the school year? I am grateful for your prayers and well-wishes. Make a memorable summer and I will see you in September.

First-Year Teacher: It was one of the best years of my life :) Have a restful summer too!

Rose: Of course now I am curious as to why it was! If you ever want to share with me, I would welcome it! And maybe you could be a guest post on my blog? No pressure, just an invitation to inspire others.

Two days later, with the email subject line: “Love”, the First-Year Teacher shared this reflection:

In the blink of an eye and it’s gone. It really is amazing how quickly this past school year has gone by. I remember posting up signs on my doors welcoming all the wide-eyed and timid Grade 8s and myself being so full of energy and enthusiasm and hope and excitement.

The whirlwind that was my first year of full-time teaching has finally ended and after letting the dust settle for only the briefest of moments, there are some key words that sum up the past 10 months of my life: process; learning; preparedness; improvisation; trust; curriculum; relationships; balance (which did not exist); faith; inspiration; disappointment; surprise; meetings; surprise meetings!; assessment; patience; exhaustion; fun; growth.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that I have so much to learn. I have grown both as a teacher and a person, despite being so busy that I didn’t think any development was possible.

One remarkable sign that I have found my path in life is that although I have never worked so hard and been more exhausted in my life, I wake up every day with a smile on my face just thinking about spending my day in a classroom with my students.

When you do what you love and when you receive so much love from those whom you work with, it makes it infinitely easier to get up and go through the daily motions of life. I realize now how much teaching can take out of you and at the same time understand how much love and energy is given in return.

So often I am reminded of Mother Teresa’s words: “You do no great things; only small things with great love.” Her words were part of my teaching philosophy back in my professional development days and they still hold true as a foundation of my teaching.

Love, and great amounts of it, is at the core of what I do in the classroom. Whether it’s French verbs or poetic devices, lunch-time tutorials or phone calls home, love is at the proverbial heart of my teaching. Love of my kids, love for the school, love of what I am blessed to do, and love for Jesus and Mary.

I feel blessed to have this opportunity to work in a Catholic school and be a part of a larger Catholic community. Being able to express my faith and my love of Mary and Jesus and God so openly is such a wonderful experience.

And while popular opinion would believe that it is the teacher who instructs and informs, it was my students who truly showed me what it means to be a person of faith. Their steadfast and dedicated love and worship of Jesus was inspiring and life-giving.

I was humbled by it all and so fortunate that Mary brought me here, to this school, with these kids and with this staff.

When you set aside your own will and desires and let your heart be filled with the will of God, this is when the magic happens.

I know I will do no great things, but with love and with the love of God I know great things are just bound to happen.

The first-year teacher, Edward Park, is now a third-year teacher at Holy Cross Regional High School.