Teaching & Mentoring is Sacred Work

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Boehm CC

Here I am on Saturday afternoon, lying in bed, recovering from an allergy assault on my sinuses, trying to keep myself busy. This is as good a time as any to reflect on the last week as a new ASC teacher and mentor at De Smet Jesuit High School (St. Louis, MO).

I had a rough first three days of teaching. The first day, I went over the syllabus, and the classroom was quietly chaotic. People’s heads were bobbing trying to stay awake as I paraphrased the course expectations, there were some guys looking into space, and then there was one or two that were legitimately paying attention. However, that didn’t frighten me. I knew those things would happen. What worried me were their expectations and what I thought were the judgmental eyes staring down someone who was only six years older than them.

On the second day, I started the actual material, and everything seemed to go well, but I caught myself doing things I promised I never would. I talked probably 95% of the time, and I hid behind my desk (Beau and Bridget will know that me sitting still for more than 15 minutes is a rare occurrence). I was off, and I knew it.

Then day three happened. I wanted to cover solution points, x and y intercepts, and circles. I rushed everything. I felt like I had to stay on the pace the book set out for me, so I covered everything as briefly as I could. I saw their confusion, but I kept going anyway.

That night we had our first ASC community night, and Fr. Burshek’s Homily keeps coming back to me. He said something along the lines of “these hallways, these classrooms, and these fields are sacred” (I’m paraphrasing). Then, I got to listen to several stories of how everyone else was doing in the classroom, and I had never been more assured in my life.

Tuesday, I slowed down. Students turned in their homework looking at me like I was going to be too difficult, but I reassured them and apologized for getting ahead of myself. So, we went over the homework, and I felt good. I was walking around, getting people up to the board to write down problems, and I felt in the zone. I was finally being myself.

Wednesday was great . . . the first home soccer game was Wednesday night, and I was able to see everyone in their natural habitat. There they were, getting rowdy for their brothers on the field, and I could only think to myself, “This is Sacred.”

Thursday and Friday were better. The first half of our block periods, we worked on ACT prep, which they seemed genuinely interested in, and then, we got to throw hacky sacks at one another as part of an activity to show what a function is. Again, even though at times they would try and chuck a hacky sack a little too hard at one another, I could only think to myself, “This is Sacred.”

Of course, I can’t leave out my cross country guys this week either. I’ve coached this year’s seniors, juniors, and sophomores since they were freshmen, and I can’t help but feel proud for them. They keep developing as leaders and young men for and with others, and I can only hope that I have helped them in some way, shape or form. We had a meet at Arnold city park this Thursday (which I am convinced is why I can’t breathe at the moment), which went great. I saw everyone compete well in 100+ degree heat index, and it was awesome. However, I had a moment as I watched them do hill sprints on Saturday morning. I sat in the middle of two 100m stretches of hill. The seniors, juniors, and sophomores I had worked with a lot were sprinting up and away from me, while my freshman were sprinting up toward me. The seniors who I have watched grow up were leading the team, and my freshmen were just starting to rise to the challenge. As I sat there in the middle of Ladue Hill trying not to sneeze, I could only think to myself, “This is Sacred.”

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