Friday, September 04, 2009

Week 2: In the Bag!

I can't believe it's already Friday. To be honest, I can't really complain about a strenuous week: we have today off as well as Monday, making for a nice 4-day weekend. I did, however, have to be in school last night for the Mini-Classes where we met the parents of freshmen.

I've now gotten the names of 85% of my students into my brain and, I suspect, the last 15% will lock into place this week. I've also managed to find a nice rhythm for grading and planning, so I've not felt too stressed. This week I'll cover the life of Saint Ignatius with the Freshmen, do a day on Saint Francis, and then prepare them to take a little test on the first three weeks of school. These Freshmen, I must admit, are particularly clever: they managed to convince me that on a 4-question quiz I needed to give 5 bonus points. One student has a 175% in my class. Seriously? I used to think that I'd be a rigorous and demanding teacher. Turns out that I'm a push-over!

As I look at it, I really do believe that most of what I teach will be forgotten. What I hope is not forgotten is the fact that they had a positive experience of a young Jesuit and, perhaps, come to have an excitement for theology. I remember being particularly affected during my freshman year by my teachers who instilled in me a love for theology, a love that was stirred and fanned by teachers such as Michael Pennock, to whom I owe a debt far greater than I can put into words.

I've taken to praying with my seating charts each morning, commending each student by name to God. I've found myself praying in a special way to Mike Pennock, asking that something of his brilliance and passion be with me as I try to form the hearts and minds of my students.

My mind turns, too, to teachers who have had such a profound influence on my life. Mrs Werner, in grammar school, etched into my heart a deep love and appreciation for words. Mike Pennock made me a faithful searcher. Father Fiore taught me how to engage in rigorous scholarship with a sense of humor. Father Gray helped me to be attentive to the movement of the Spirit both in written texts and in the narratives of the human heart. Father Farrell taught me the skills of prayerful listening. My dear friend professor Jane Dryden has taught me more philosophy over coffee and bagels than I've learned in any textbook. Father Klein helped to show me how to bring together disparate theological and philosophical voices in a way that is faithful and boundary-pushing. My life, it seems, has been indelibly marked by teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing their passion with students.

I have a post that I'm working on, a reflection on a question posed to me by a student. I have quite a bit of lesson planning to do this weekend but, if I get a few moments, I would like to share my thoughts with all of you in the hopes of eliciting thoughts from readers.

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