For Now

The wellness class activity was going online comparison shopping for the dinner-for-four ingredients, trying to reduce the cost of the meal by thirty percent. Next was advanced conditioning in the school weight room. A quick climb up the stairs to supervise an independent work period followed; then it was time for meal planning, round two. That was my first day. My second day was stepping into a couple of different rooms so that teachers could do critical assessment paperwork and Zoom meetings. I answered a few questions, helped learners complete their assignments, and did my best to offer assistance where and when it was needed. I didn’t plan any of the activities, I didn’t know any of the learners, and I had to ask for help finding the rooms. None of it was what I went to school for, or what I’ve done in the past in any professional role. Day three as a substitute high school teacher will likely be the same: going with whatever comes along, asking for directions when necessary, and honoring the time and needs of leaders and learners.

Substitute teaching feels a lot like life. Lots of things are out of my control, and where my help and skills are needed are in things I did not devise or expect. I’m not in charge in more than a temporary sense, and it may not turn out as advertised or expected. But I got to meet some wonderful young people; I met caring men and women who show up to foster the lives of others in many different disciplines and with widely different approaches. Patience was needed, and a willingness to ask for help from whomever happened to be around when I needed it.

It’s not what I expected to be doing at this point, and it wouldn’t have been my first choice. But much of what has been holiest and most meaningful came out of the plans and needs of others. That seems to be the beginning of what grows into something I choose – or that chooses me.

Letting go of what doesn’t matter: My limited view on what I think I’m supposed to do at the moment.

Loving what does: Serving God and neighbor where I can in this time and place.

2 thoughts on “For Now

  1. Robin Nielsen

    This is wonderful Johnna; you’re being a substitute teacher!! The students…and other teachers in the high school are very fortunate that you are there to help.
    I am in the same boat, just a slightly different one as a substitute teacher on the elementary level…2 schools near my home; both are quite amazing, wonderful and yes, challenging. I am pretty tired at the end of the day; but, fulfilled at the same time that the day was good; like yesterday in the Strive Program (formerly the ASD program i worked in for many years) I love the kids, all for the most part nonverbal but oh so smart on their own individual level. The spirit of God’s love is right there in their classroom.


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