Friday, October 4, 2013


I’m Hungry.  It’s 11:00, I have two more lessons to teach, my lunch break isn’t until 12:30, and I’m so hungry. 
I really have no time to sneak in a biscuit or cup of tea.  It’s time to pick up my next student and I press onward as my stomach grumbles.  We go over the student’s sound pack and work on the short vowel sounds.  We spell tricky words like “could” and read a book about a dragon.  The student gets a sticker for their good work.  I take them back to their class and pick up my next student.  One down, one more to go.  Then I can eat.
By this point I have a hunger headache and am having a hard time concentrating on my once detailed lesson plan.  My student is a chatterbox today, finding every distraction possible in the room to look at and talk about, rather than read the book we must get through.  Eventually, we make it to the end, and chatter wins as we walk back to their classroom.  I drop them off with their teacher as their class queues at the door.  At this point, three flights of stairs separate me from my lunch. 
As I’m walking up, the hunger makes my mind wander and I think of my students I’ve seen today.  All second language students, their English vocabulary is limited and they work extra hard every day to try and learn in a classroom that doesn’t speak their first language.  Vowels are the trickiest to learn, and for every rule we learn about spelling I have to explain the many exceptions that follow.  Some students have lived in London their whole life, some have just moved here, but their ethnicities range from Turkish to Pakistani, to Colombian, to Hispanic, to Jamaican, to Nigerian.  One girl out of my 15 students is British.
I stop mid-step up the stairs and I think about how distracted I was during my lessons today.  As I taught one of my boys, his jumper was torn and his shirt carried the sticker he earned during yesterday’s lesson.  Another forgot their glasses at home for the second time in a row.  I had two bowls of cereal this morning and am wearing clean clothes, about to eat the abundant lunch I packed this morning from my cupboards stocked with groceries. 
Suddenly I don’t think I’m quite as hungry as I thought. 
I have 15 children this year, which I’ll see one-on-one twice a week for 40 minutes at a time.  I cannot control their past, I cannot control how clean their clothes are or if they have been coming to school for free breakfast.  What I can control are the 40 precious minutes I spend with them twice a week.  When they can come to Springboard and receive individualized attention, working through their weaknesses and highlighting their strengths.
40 minutes.  That’s all I have.  But I’ll take those 2,400 seconds and work slowly though the complicated English language.  At first I was nervous to work with Springboard, not having a degree in education or understanding the whole notion of teaching phonics.  But I am human, and that gives me the knowledge to understand the importance of a child’s right to succeed.  The right to play.  The right to be loved.   
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next."

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post Katharine! You have a great big heart for others and i am so glad you are sharing it with these children. You are fortunate to be in eachothers lives!