Friday, July 9, 2010

In recent news:

1. My support level reached 27% yesterday - hurrah! Although this is good progress, it is (of course) not enough for me to purchase my plane ticket & leave for Prague just yet. Please be in prayer as I continue to discover who God would have to support me.
2. I accepted a job at Kansas State University, teaching writing and literature there for the fall semester. No word on what happens after the fall (with any luck, I'll be in Prague), but until then, I'm looking forward to using this time to prepare financially for my missions trip and especially to work on my educational skills.
3. Finally, I promise not to regale you all with a theoretical justification of English - important as that is! Today's post is a story.

Many of you know that I taught Introduction to Literature at Kansas State University last year. Although I enjoyed teaching at KSU (and will be returning for the fall semester), I did feel some of the discomfort that comes from being a Christian in a secular environment. Last semester, however, was different.

Many of last semester's students were religiously skepticial, preferring to espouse animal rights or mixed-up ideas of justice or heroism or faith. There was one student, however, who was a believer. About five weeks into the course, she turned in a paper about hope after death, and I suspected. A few weeks after that, we had a chance to talk one-on-one (she was considering changing her major), and she told me her faith was important to her and that she was a believer - actually active in one of the student ministries on campus.

As the semester progressed, we had a chance to discuss her concerns about changing her major and the abilities she demonstrated in my class. I offered to pray for her, and she expressed her gratitutde. I also noticed her effort to speak up and defend her religious perspective in the class. Her presence in the class was an encouragement to me (as I hope mine was to her!) - a neat opportunity to experience the mentoring student-to-teacher relationship that is sometimes difficult to reach at KSU, and a good preview of what I look forward to at the Christian International School of Prague. Many of you have heard me say this before, but it's still true: in education, the relationship and not the facts matter. A teacher should support her students emotionally and spiritually as much as possible, not just academically - which is what I aim to do at CISP.

What do you think? What makes the teacher-student relationship a success, besides academics? How do you know you've 'made it' as a teacher?

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