Trust Me

I love good stories – short ones with a witty punch at the end, long ones with clever twists and satisfying endings after rising action. I don’t really love “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane, but I still chose to teach it to my AP English class because there’s a lot of great features of writing for them to work with as we analyze literary devices, setting, and characters.

I assigned it to them as reading last Friday as I was still learning their names and asked them to assess their level of stress taking my class three days in. None of them were off the charts worried, but I think the numbers might have changed if I’d asked this past Thursday as I explained that I was going to use their first paragraph analysis of “The Open Boat” from Monday combined with new paragraphs they were writing in class Thursday to be revised this coming Monday in their first summative essay. Panic entered the eyes of a couple students as they explained to me they didn’t know I was wanting a unified essay because I’d given them three different topics. I explained that was intentional as I was going to work with them to turn their first drafts into three different body paragraphs of an essay about the broader literary merits of the short story.

I’m confident that by the end of the story, I’ll get some decent essays out of them, but Thursday’s lesson took a turn when I had this chaos and confusion from students who’d dutifully written their first paragraph in the timed 15 minutes with no complaints. When I gave them 50 minutes for the subsequent two, only half the students managed to finish before the bell. I really just wanted these students to trust me that I knew was I was doing. I kept trying to reassure them, “Just finish these two paragraphs as assigned today, and I promise we’ll work them together into a full essay with feedback I give you on Monday. Just don’t panic.” Some of them still panicked.

This blog hosts my stories as a missionary teacher in Germany recovering from a spinal cord injury, and I while I have a lot of autonomy in my life, I speak of it as being written by the Author and Perfecter of humanity – Jesus. Sometimes I panic about the things I’m given in my story because the pieces come, and I don’t know what the overarching prompt is; I can’t see how they connect. I’m working hard to be a good teacher, and this week had a couple interesting pedagogical challenges present themselves. I’ll do my best to handle them with dignity and grace, but they also require me to focus some attention holistically on how I teach from a healthy physical, mental, and spiritual space.

I definitely trust Jesus to work this all out, but I also know I’ve been given responsibility to live well in this disabled body. This past week didn’t leave a lot of time for me to walk, but I know I’ve got some great things ahead in my ongoing recovery. I’ve still got a lot of training to do to manage that 5k next summer, and my students will only benefit from a holistically healthy teacher.

Still confident that Jesus knows what he’s doing, I’ve got a couple significant doctor’s appointments this week that I hope go well. My next botox treatment is on Tuesday, and I would love any prayers for this iteration to be symptom free like the first three since a year ago I managed to have all the negative side effects for the first time. I’ve also got an annual check in with my REHAB doctor on Thursday, and while this won’t have the best part (the physio checkup), I do hope to have a positive conversation with the doctor about my ongoing recovery and the hope for future progress.

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