In just over 4 weeks I will be wrapping-up my M.Ed in Teaching and Learning at Saint Mary's University. Two weeks after that I will be ending my role as an online teaching at Landry Academy. As I face both of these journeys coming to an end I am left with the obvious question of, what next? But I as I consider the possible responses to that question I also need to consider what my calling as teacher should look like in the next chapter of my life.
If you are unfamiliar with this word "calling" it is a term frequently used in Christian circles to describe what one feels God has both gifted them in and asked to do vocationally. Dictionary.com offers these words to define calling: 2) vocation, profession, or trade: What is your calling? 3) a call or summons: He had a calling to join the church. 4) a strong impulse or inclination: She did it in response to an inner calling.
As you can see this term "calling" is closely related to both what one does and the feeling of being called to be and do something specifically designed for the person called. For me I believe my calling began in elementary school. It was there that I decided I would be a teacher. Was it because I had amazing teachers, loved school and adored a lot of moments of my academic experiences. Maybe? Or was it that there was a design imprinted on my life from the creator of the world that would guide me to be passionate about education and the relational ministry that can happen in the classroom? (Sounds a lot like the nature versus nurture question.) I am guessing it is a good combo of both. But why ask these question now? Why walk down this introspective path after 10 years in the education world, after 10 years of trying to see my calling through?
I believe re-visiting my calling to teach is important now because as I get older I feel like I waver more and more in knowing exactly what I am called to. In many ways the early years of adult-life are so much easier. Fewer mistakes have been made, less bills have to be paid, the idea that "I can do anything I want" seems like an actual reality, and the zest of life has not been squished by the weight of the pressures that come with sticking with a plan, following through with the hard relationships and the questioning of whether in 10 years I have had the affect that I was hoping for. (Perhaps this is where mid-life crises begins?) To recall my calling is to bring myself back to an understanding and belief that my training in and passion for education are leading me somewhere...but where? I am not sure?
But here is what I am sure of: I have been given some gifts that I can not keep to myself. I have been given the gift of a teacher's heart. I have been given the gift of a bachelor's degree. I have been given the gift of a master's degree. I have been given the gift of a faithful husband. I have been given the gift of three little ones made from my blood and born from my body. I have been given the gift of some amazing teaching experiences. I have been given the gift of rich and life-giving relationships with students and colleagues. I have been given the gift of hard-times. I have been given the gift of these promises from my creator: I will never leave your or forsake you. I am with you always. I know the plans of I have for you. So as I reconsider my calling to be a teacher I can see where this calling has lead me already--to people and places that have changed my life. My experiences have made me even more passionate about providing high quality education to students. And further, given me a desire to help other teachers discuss and share their passion and pedagogy practices used to fulfill their calling as a teacher.
As I ponder the words I have just written I can see that my calling is what it has always been, to teach: when I see the gifts this calling has given me I can not help but be overjoyed and encouraged. I can see that my experiences were intentionally designed to give me a certain perspective and that with that perspective I can continue to live into my calling. From that perspective I can see that I am called to reach out and share my gifts with those around me. What that looks like exactly, I am not sure. But I will rest in the waiting (I will try to anyway: I am pretty good at resting...waiting, not so much!). And I will hold fast to the gift of the promise that there is a design placed on my life. When I wonder and waver and question what I am called to, I need only to return to this post and be reminded that He who is faithful will equip and provide for me to fulfill my calling.
Self-reflection has lead me here and now the journey will continue....
(source of image: http://www.jathangood.com/hallways/)
Links to all the, Go and See Study, sessions.