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Be Not Afraid: Am I Good Enough?



Editor’s Note: Missioner Amanda Ceraldi shares how her fear of not being good enough for her students was a fear she could only combat through encounters with these students.

Being a teacher is hard. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. Every day when I walk into the classroom I am challenged. Some days those challenges are good and they leave me laughing and full of joy. Some days those challenges leave me nearly in tears, lying in my bed, praying that I never have to go back into the classroom.

Over the past two years I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I quickly found that while I am capable of being a teacher, I’m not sure I’m a good one. I am constantly second guessing myself and filling my head with doubts. Am I actually a good teacher? Are my students learning anything? Will this material help them when they leave Valley? There are days where I leave my classroom and I question why I even walked in.

I was beginning to think I wasn’t good enough and that fear began to rule all of my relationships. If I wasn’t a good enough teacher, I wasn’t a good enough friend, daughter, sister, or missioner. These thoughts crippled me and I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from.

One day, during an especially long class with my fourth graders, I was handing back their quizzes and counting down the minutes until I could leave. It was a Thursday and we had Friday off for one of our monthly family visit days, so I couldn’t wait to be free of my students and free of teaching. I told my students to be proud of their quizzes and to make sure they showed their parents during the visit day. The bell was about to ring and I couldn’t get out of the classroom fast enough.

As I packed my bag and headed for the door, Ana* ran after me and asked if she had to tell her mom about her test score. I was surprised because she got 90% when she normally gets 60% or 70%. I turned to her and said that she should be proud of herself and that by sharing her test score with her mom she would be proud too. Ana responded with a face full of tears and said that if she showed her mom a test with anything less than 100% she would beat her. I didn’t know what to say. How do you respond to something like that? So I hugged her, bent down, and told her that I was so proud of her.

Ana* (far left), another student, and Amanda working in the garden

Ana* (far left), another student, and Amanda working in the garden

This exchange with Ana really left an impression on me. On a day where I wanted to ignore my students and run away from my anxieties and fears as a teacher I was forced to face them head on instead. In those little moments with my students I am reminded that not only am I capable of being their teacher, I am doing what I am called to be doing—what I am meant to be doing. Moving past the fear of not being good enough allowed me to love my students more intentionally.

Reflection Questions: How can you love others more intentionally? How do you work through the fear of not being good enough?

Amanda Ceraldi graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. where she majored in Theology and minored in Peace and Justice Studies. Amanda was involved with Campus Ministry at CUA and worked as a Student Minister her senior year. As a Baltimore native, Amanda loves all things Baltimore and Maryland–Chesapeake Blue Crabs, the Ravens and the Orioles, Old Bay and much more. She has been serving at Valle de los Angeles School in Guatemala since January 2015.