Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teaching Advice for My Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother

My mom has been doing a lot of family history work lately and today she sent me a one page paper that gave some information about my great-grandma Mary's great-grandmother Mary Annah. Like me, she became a teacher. Only she began her teaching career at the age of 16. When she graduated school to become a teacher, one of her former teachers wrote to her the following advice about teaching.
You were a kind and thoughtful student and will be a kind teacher. Don't expect perfection. Respect the feelings and rights of your pupils. Make them obey you because they love you. Have patience and pray earnestly for strength and wisdom. God will guide and help you. May no dark clouds come to discourage you or make you fainthearted. God is good, he loves his children and will bless and keep them if they ask his blessings aright. Strive to be faithful that the beautiful crown may be yours.
This was written around 1863. Over 150 years ago this was written to my great-great-great-great-grandmother, but it feels like it was written to me. As I read this paper about Mary Annah, I felt a deep, strong connection to this woman who I had no idea was even related to me. I had no idea that I had teachers so far back in my family.

I've been thinking a lot lately about this amazing, yet frightening, opportunity to teach first graders. I am constantly astonished that my professors at BYU, my principal, my first grade team, parents and even God himself, are all trusting me with a class full of 6 year olds. They are trusting me to keep them safe, keep them happy and to teach them basic skills so they can progress through their education. I have been feeling overwhelmed lately with this task that is so huge and so important to these kids' lives. But thanks to the advice that was given to my great-great-great-great-grandmother, I feel like I can do it.

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