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.
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?