C.K., a new TeachBeyond member, reflects on the opening of school.
I just now realized how much I took for granted all the work my teachers did. As a student, it seemed like class just happened. Until I began composing my own lesson plans last week, I didn’t realize how much thought and how many hours of work went into every lesson, the creative bulletin boards, each worksheet, and all the integrated learning activities.
I also realized how much I took supply procurement for granted. Every piece of tape, stapler, colored paper, and pencil sharpener at my new school has been made possible through donations. Some supplies are shipped from the USA at great expense. Other items have been obtained from local stores that have a hodgepodge of miscellaneous items. Around here there are no Staples, Office Max, Hobby Lobby, nor Amazon Prime. If you need something, the best bet is to make it yourself.
For example, I wanted to put up world maps in the third- through sixth-grade classrooms for Social Studies, but there was nothing suitable to post on the walls. The principal drove me to a small school supply store, but they didn’t have any maps. We could try driving to another town and poking around another store, but that would be a waste of time and gas. It seems like such a simple thing to get, but here it could take days of searching without any luck.
Instead of buying maps, the principal suggested I make them myself. Instead of lamenting about what we don’t have, we focused on what we DO have; and we HAVE tons of creativity! I found some colorful sheets of foam material, a pair of scissors, and a projector, and four hours later, “Voila!”
I’m certain that these maps are more interesting and fun for students to interact with than anything I could have bought online or in a store. I’ll pin up the continents with colored thumbtacks (which I WAS able to buy today) to represent large cities and places of interest around the world. I’ll print out and laminate the names of oceans and continents for the students to place on the board as part of our lessons.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” 1 Thessalonians 5:18—19.
I realized that I’m actually thankful for the limited resources we do have at this beautiful school. This forces us to be creative and resourceful instead of automatically going through the motions each day. Instead of relying on props and fancy materials to make our lessons interesting, we will have to be prepared, engaging and imaginative with what we do have. I am thankful for not having every item I could possibly ever need at my fingertips. I find I am more grateful and appreciative of simple joys of life when I no longer take things for granted.
C.K. is a teacher in a sensitive-access country.