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Posted by on October 19, 2013

Being an effective teacher with 30 students seems like an impossible task, especially if you equate effectiveness with perfection.

Having a large number of students automatically diminishes student focus. It’s impossible for me to control each student to be 100% focused on every lesson 100% of the time. I can’t change the fact that my students are squished together and complain about always bumping into each other’s chairs.

Grading can be a nightmare, especially when 1/3 of the class chooses to turn every assignment in late (or not to turn it in or even do the assignment until you remind them). When students are absent, I can’t stand over them until they get caught up.

It’s literally impossible to schedule all 30 parent/teacher conferences in the time allotted by the school, so two days of conferences has turned into a week of conferences.

It’s difficult to monitor so many students on a day-to-day and even week-to-week basis. If a student is struggling, I don’t have the time or energy to give them the one-on-one attention they need.

With so many students, it’s impossible to meet with all my small reading groups in one week. Even when I am meeting with small groups at the back table, I can’t control the behavior of the other 27 students who are supposed to be working independently.

When my special needs student has a meltdown and runs out of the room, I can’t leave the other 29 students to chase him down. Calling the office and the special ed teacher take away valuable class time.

And then there are the many mistakes I make every day because my brain is overwhelmed with the constant multitasking… Like yesterday when I arranged our schedule wrong, and my students missed 45 minutes of their music time.

But this year is not without purpose, for my God is a God of purpose. Maybe the point is not perfection. Maybe it’s not about my being an “effective teacher” the way I would define it. The root of my desire for perfection is my desire to be in control of my own life and circumstances. Dealing with the difficulties at school this year seem impossible, but what’s truly impossible is for my control to produce anything effective or good. God deserves the glory for every good thing that is accomplished through me. He wants my dependence on Him. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

I was also reminded this week of Colossians 3:23-24. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Who am I trying to please in teaching with perfection? I have discovered that I’ve been trying to work for myself to impress my principal or other teachers. The focus has been ME, and I’ve been looking for a “reward” from men. With this motivation, I fall apart when given criticism or when things don’t go the way I expect. “I work for the Lord and not for men.” What a freeing reality! My Lord is pleased when I rely on Him, do my best, and then praise Him for the results.

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