6 nuggets of life-wisdom from my 4th grade Sunday School students

Every Sunday at 10:15 am, I walk over to the room with a purple door to see my Sunday school class of 4th graders. For the next hour and a half, we talk, tell stories, make crafts, play games. We talk about the Bible, about Jesus, and about what it means to follow God in their own lives today.

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When I started teaching Sunday school for the first time, almost two years ago; it took a bit of time for me to figure out how to best relate to the 4th graders. How smart they are!

I’m still learning. And a handful of nine and ten-year old kids sure can teach you many things. They continue to surprise me with their thoughts, their imagination, and the way the world looks in their eyes. (Their world is, in many ways, profoundly different from the world I grew up in. Sometimes I am astounded. Read: One of the most important things you need to take on a camping trip to survive is your iPad!??)

Still each week, I am often left fascinated by the wonderful ways these little humans are just themselves.

 

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”  Exodus 23:2

 

Yesterday, after storytelling and discussion about a Bible story, we did a craft that the kids got to do in pairs. They were to come up with slogans that would encourage them to do do what is right, especially when the wrong choice is the easy choice. The example we gave them was straight out of our curriculum, ” Be wise about what you see with their eyes.”  We encouraged them to rhyme, but more importantly to make their work applicable in their own lives.

After much thought and animated, even heated, discussions, each pair of students came up with some fantastic nuggets of wisdom. Catchier and spunkier than I could’ve ever come up with at their age.

Meet my fourth graders!

1. If you litter, your Future will be bitter. 

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2. Don’t be a fool and don’t cheat in school. Challengers 3

 

 

 

3. Fear isn’t evil, it tells you what your Weakness is. 

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4. Loyalty makes your friends HAPPY. (And makes them trust you and God will be proud of you.)

 

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5. Know the fact before you act.

(In the context of placing the blame on others.)

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6. Honesty is the best way to be TRUSTWORTHY. 

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Pretty awesome, right?

 

My teacher-teacher adventures at twenty-four

Twenty four was a great year. Looking back at the adventures of the past twelve months, my gratitude just spills over. It was whirlwind of so many beautiful and challenging things.

As I write and reflect, one thing seems to stick out: I learned a lot this year. 

Sounds like a pretty ordinary statement because isn’t all of life a journey of learning? (Yes!) But even so, this past year more than the years that have preceded it, has gifted me with some serious learning opportunities.

My explanation for this is that my learning came hand in hand with my sharing (of the learning). But the sharing has added all the value for me.

One of my favorite games as a kid was “Teacher Teacher.” Alone, with a friend, my stuffed toys, or imaginary students – I would pretend I was a teacher. I’d make a lesson plan, grading sheets, and then conduct a lesson, complete with the reprimanding of unruly students.

Sometime in just the past twelve months I remember considering: “I think I’m am finally a teacher.”

There is still so much left to learn and discover; but I believe it was this year, at 24 years old, that I considered with more intention than ever, my role as a mentor and teacher to those in my circle of influence.

From June to December last year, I was leading Likha, a Buhay Makulay program. Over the course of six months, we met with a group of 31 children from the urban poor sector. Most of them live under a bridge and are considered invisible and unrecognized in their city. We were mentoring these little ones through movement and visual arts. Play used as learning. On one particular Saturday I was teaching them about complementary and contrasting colors. At the end of the art making session I realized that they got it. They grasped these basic art concepts! Sure, these weren’t deeply-scientific, mind-blowing theories, but it felt like an achievement nonetheless. They may never use that piece of knowledge again, but it’s the process of discovery that we valued. Despite barriers of economic or social background + my weakness in the language, something made it through – and clicked!

(Teaching this group of children was an entirely different experience from teaching my Sunday schoolers who came from some of the grade schools in the country and were completely used to well-equipped classrooms, the routine of a rigorous school day of reading, writing, learning, and communicating with others.)

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Likha 2013


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It’s been a few years since I discovered how much I enjoy facilitating small to medium sized group activities/workshops, handling group dynamics both serious and silly (which by the way I would have never pictured, as the shy little girl I was). And now I feel I have grown even more. I’m learning to teach the way I first understood teachers as a child – in a classroom setting.

Every day is a learning day for me.

 

“I think I’m am finally a teacher.”

I was led here by many different but sustained “sharing” experiences of my year 24:

I was teaching Sunday School to 4th graders every Sunday at 10:30 am. Two Saturday mornings of each month I was facilitating art/life lessons with children from our city slums through Likha, a program of the Buhay Makulay Children’s Project Inc. To get that program running, I mentored a group of teenagers from similar backgrounds, who now served as volunteers and youth leaders in Likha. I was teaching roughly 15 (muscle-burning!) fitness classes a week at PlanaFORMA to folks (mostly women) of all ages. I was teaching Zumba regularly at the same studios, but also with lovely senior citizens at my church, two Wednesdays of each month. I was mentoring and managing our full-time staff at The Paper Project. More recently, I’ve gone on the road with Buhay Makulay, traveling to communities affected by the typhoon last year to share a vision of hope with children.

Over and over again, I am grateful for these windows to serve, learn and be given inspiration by the people around me. Aren’t we all just students of life?

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Easter Sunday 2013 with the kiddos from my first year of teaching 4th grade Sunday school!

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Does 25 mean that my early twenties are over?

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