Our students arrive for the beginning of the second semester tomorrow but the faculty and staff of Westbury Christian School met today for in service. We always begin with a devotional. Mike White was in charge this morning. Of the many people I have worked with in education, Mike is the most versatile. During his eight year tenure at WCS, Mike has instructed US History, served as campus minister and Director of Spiritual Life, functioned as Dean of Students, and after going back to grad school is now our guidance counselor. Did I mention he has coached basketball and cross country in his spare time? With each career redirection, Mike has accepted the new challenges cheerfully and has excelled at all of them. (His beautiful wife Jennifer also makes the best meatloaf in Houston!) One of Mike's points this morning centered on our having different abilities. Teachers teach with various styles but style never determined effectiveness. What works for one teacher is a disaster for another. The ability to relate to one age group does not always translate to students older or younger. Very few high school math teachers could cut it in a kindergarten classroom for an extended time. Those five year olds would run me off in two hours, TOPS! Often teachers and coaches try to be someone they are not. Inexperienced teachers, and sometimes experienced ones, latch on to the newest technique or the latest lesson plan, thinking it will make all the difference in classroom management and progress. It doesn't work. I have learned to teach and coach to my strengths. It doesn't mean I can't improve or shouldn't improve in certain areas but I can't remake myself every six weeks. Sometimes, we just have to admit we aren't good at something and move on. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit to the world several of the multitude of things that I struggle with.
1. I can't sing.
2. I can't change the oil in my car.
3. I can't figure out my taxes.
4. I can't program my VCR.
5. I can't tie ties.
Number five may not seem like a big deal to you but part of my identity as a teacher, or mystique if you will, has to do with ties. I am not sure exactly how many I own- probably in the neighborhood of 120 or so- but I haven't worn the same tie twice this year and Santa brought me a bunch more for Christmas. It is a big deal for my students because we have a bonus question daily on our test-quizzes-memory verses related to whatever tie I have on. (I should let you know that not all of them match what I am wearing, a fact my female students are delighted to point out. You think those guys who come up with the Worst Dressed Lists are brutal; you ought to hear the WCS girls!) How can I have so many ties if I don't know how to tie a tie? It all goes back to Mike White. Besides his myriad of other skills, Mike is better at tying ties than anyone in the world. I am not kidding- he always gets it perfect! The knot is flawless and the tie hangs to just the right spot. After wearing them, I leave each tie tied with Mike's perfect knot until the next time it is called upon to complement- or not- my dress shirt and pants. Mike is so gracious to me. I know he dreads Christmas and my birthdays but he seems excited when I show him the newest neck wear. We have a terrific relationship. Mike makes up for what I am lacking. In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul speaks about each of us having various gifts using body parts to emphasize his teaching. (Funny he didn't mention the neck!) Paul's point was we aren't the same and it's fruitless to let it bother us. I know I have been jealous of other people's gifts, especially on mission trips. It's easier to stomach in a small thing like tying ties. Inadequacy in the more important gifts, such as construction skills or being bilingual, still cuts deep with me. God chose not to bless me with those talents and there is no doubt HE KNOWS what he is doing. I'm learning to be more patient and accepting with my shortcomings. And in spite of my weaknesses, I look GOOD in those ties!
For those who might be remotely interested, tomorrow I will sport a new Mickey Mouse tie, courtesy of the lovely Christina Knaub. On Friday, my wardrobe will include a just-out-of-the- wrapper number given to me by the equally lovely Leticia Cuellar who made her Christmas presentation with the immortal phrase, "Coach, you just needed a pink tie."
Applicable quote of the day:
"It always seemed to me that men wore their beards, like they wear their neckties, for show."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org