By Erin Routledge, Casa Rutilio Grande, Houston 16, Gonzaga University 16. Originally posted on her blog.
I felt overwhelmed on Friday. Maybe it wasn’t just feeling overwhelmed. It was feeling that I wasn’t adequate. That I didn’t have the background I needed to work in academics. That I didn’t have the experience to know how to work with high schoolers that are only a few years younger than me.
It seems a little silly now that I look back at it. Friday was an early dismissal day at the end of an already short week thanks to Labor Day, so what was I doing feeling overwhelmed? But I’m learning that all emotions and feelings are valid, even if we look back and try to discount them.
I walked into a meeting on Friday that was for the teachers of seniors. Since I supervise senior study hall and have been checking in with seniors who are struggling academically, I was invited. It was our first meeting and I was excited to talk about how we could continue to support the seniors as we are almost halfway through the first academic quarter. While we did that, we also spent some time reflecting on the academic vision of the school. My supervisor pulled up a document that listed phrases such as…
We will lovingly hold students accountable
We, as teachers, will model faith for students
We will reflect on our practices
We will assist students in building mastery
As we spent time reflecting, I started jotting down questions for myself. Am I lovingly holding students accountable? Am I acting as a model of faith? Am I reflecting on my practices? Am I helping students build mastery? Do I even know what building mastery means? Am I doing any of this right at all?
After that meeting, we celebrated mass as a school community. I sat in the pew, trying to process what I had started feeling during that meeting and why I felt that way.
I started to realize that a lot of my job is running around and filling in where there are gaps and helping the school function logistically. And while that is enjoyable and life-giving for me, it can also be a little chaotic. But I also get to spend three hours a day with seniors during their study hall periods and over the course of the week, I get to see all 134 seniors and spend time with them. And I realized that in the craziness of what my job is, those study hall periods and those seniors are consistent.
Cristo Rey serves students who aren’t necessarily used to consistency. Maybe that’s financially. Maybe that’s relationally. Maybe that’s emotionally. But school and work become something consistent for them. And I get to be a part of that consistency. That just as I often come to study hall feeling like I’ve been all over the place, they probably feel the same way when they come to school or even to study hall. Maybe they had a difficult test that day. Maybe they were up late working to support their family. Maybe they take care of their siblings in the mornings.
So, am I trained in education? No.
Am I comfortable with academic jargon? Not really.
But, can I minister to these students with my presence? Absolutely.
Can I be a source of consistency for them? Yes.
And that’s what I think it’s all about. Consistency, trust, and relationships. And for today, that is what brings me peace and gives me joy. I am so grateful for our faithful God who models consistency to us over and over again in an ever-changing world.