Called to Teach

 

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” You’ve heard the popular saying, implying that people with real practical skills are out doing constructive things while those who can’t cut it in the “real world” find a less demanding refuge in teaching.

The truth is nearly the exact opposite: Those who can, teach. Those who can’t, do. I’ve been on both sides of the equation as a writer and as a writing teacher. And with all due respect to all the professionals out there, teaching is the hardest job you can ever do, but it is the most rewarding. The teacher is the most important person in any civilization as on her depends the molding of the nation.

Is teaching a calling? Absolutely. Are people born teachers? I believe so even though some don’t know it. I never saw it coming. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “I want to be a writer.” From the time that I could hold a pencil in my hand, writing became my passion. So it was not a surprise when I majored as journalist then later as a creative writer and screenwriter. But a teacher? No, that was never in my plans. God, however, had a different plan one for me.

 

Another’s example

As the daughter of a teacher, I saw my mom prepare endless lesson plans, special projects and deal with more behavioral troubled second and third graders to last me a lifetime. I remember one day when I was about eight, when we lived in Madrid, Spain, my mom and I were walking home after she got out of class. I had spent the whole day with her in her classroom, and those kids had driven me nuts! My mom was a disciplinarian, but she was also a very gentle and loving teacher, and the kids loved her. I didn’t know how she did it. So, I asked her, “Mom, why do you teach?” And her quick answer baffled me. “Because God called me to be a teacher. That’s my ministry; it always has been,” she said.

That day she recounted her first teaching job in Cuba as a young teacher and how different that had been to her teaching job in Madrid where she had more resources, a nice classroom with new books and materials. “Kids are kids everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you teach or what you teach. And wherever you go, know that you are a model for them,” she said and explained how a teacher must know that she is teaching, not only a subject, but a child.

Five years ago, my mother retired after more than fifty years practicing her vocation. Still, you can’t take her out of the classroom. She works four hours a day, four days a week in a classroom as a teacher’s helper then teaches Sunday school at her church. The words in Titus 2:7: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,” remind me of her.

 

The call

From my mother I learned that a good teacher helps develop a child at his own rate. This leads to success and gives him confidence. I saw her methods motivate her students, awakening their interest and arousing their curiosity about a subject, even math! Her energy, enthusiasm and cheerfulness made learning an experience, not a boring task.

So, you can imagine the look on my face when one day, as I was working as a writer/editor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, and my boss opened my office door and asked, “Maritza, how would you like to teach a Journalism class at Calvary Christian Academy’s high school?”

To his credit, the request was not a random one. For over a year I had been working with Calvary’s best young student writers, producing a spread entitled “Youth Place,” in the Calvary Community magazine, which I wrote and helped publish monthly. Church and school administration saw the success of our collaborative work and since the school needed a high school journalism teacher that would teach students interested in writing, design and photography with the intention of producing their own high school newspaper, I was recruited for the job.

“I will pray about it,” is what I told my boss. That night I went home and prayed: “Lord, really? Do you remember that I had to sign up for speech class in college three times, and every time I left the class after the first day because I was afraid to speak up in class?”

I felt the Lord tell me, “I want you to teach this class.” And that’s when I realized that the Lord has a sense of humor.

Seven years later, The Messenger, Calvary Christian Academy’s high school news magazine made it to New York. As a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, we had been awarded with three gold medals three years in a row. In 2013, I was invited to speak at their annual conference in Columbia University in New York. Over three thousand journalism students and their teachers from all over the country were in attendance, and Calvary’s newsmagazine was the only Christian magazine there. The Messenger was a hit and God’s Word was everywhere. As a teacher, I couldn’t have been more proud of my students.

 

A new assignment

Teaching in a Christian school was an incredible experience. God truly prepared me for my next assignment: teaching in a public school. After my first week, I wanted to bolt, though. The classrooms were devoid of God’s Word, the students were loud, disrespectful and many could care less if you gave them an A or an F. I asked God: “Lord, really?” And once again, before I asked it, I knew His answer.

“Take care of my lost sheep,” He said. And then I thought of my mom’s words: “Kids are kids everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you teach or what you teach. And wherever you go, know that you are a model for them.”

 

Maritza Cosano is a freelance writer/editor, writing teacher and author of the young adult books. She offers editorial and publishing services for writers and can be reached at [email protected]

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