A Day in the Life of a Cookson Hills Teacher

As families send their children back to school, and homework begins to appear, one may question what exactly a teacher does throughout the day. The truth is, a lot, and it is no different here at Cookson Hills. To gain an inside understanding of just what goes on after the bell rings to start the day, we asked one of our teachers to reflect on a typical day in her life.

Teaching Middle school

When someone asks me what a typical day in my classroom looks like, I’m often stumped to find a good, all-purpose answer. Teaching middle school students tends to promise anything but a typical day! I can generally expect certain questions or situations from my students; I just never know when they will present themselves!

After four years at Cookson Hills, I’ve learned that I always need to begin my day in prayer. I pray for my students’ emotional well-being, focus, and receptiveness to our staff here and to God’s love for them. Then I pray for myself. Teaching can test my patience and gentleness each day. I have to reset my mind and my heart to accept that I cannot reach our students without God’s strength and grace. When I hand over my classes to Him, I see a change in my students. I don’t know what each day with my students will hold. I can only do as I’m called by God to do: teach in love and build relationships.

Tending the needs of the students

Cookson Hills has taught me how to be flexible in the classroom.  Sure, I know that I’ll be teaching my lessons, and there will be classwork completed; but my classroom is filled with people, not robots! I am called to tend to their needs and connect with them. Some days the needs are small. “I need a pencil”, “Can I go to the restroom?”, or “I forgot my book.” . Some days, the needs are great. Every now and again, I have days where I am a comforter to the student who received bad news from home. I have days where I teach how to maintain peace in times of frustration, rather than my lesson about the Protestant Reformation.

On days like that, I have to be willing to sacrifice my plans for the needs of my students. Every day I am reminded that it’s not about me. It’s about God’s work in my students’ lives. It’s for God’s Kingdom! I would be incredibly selfish to allow my rigidity or love for routine to thwart my students from accepting God’s love for them.

Connection is key

Over my years at Cookson, I’ve become more anchored in my role as a middle school teacher. I have realized how important my connection with the kids is. They come and go from here frequently. It’s easy to want to protect myself and keep them all at an arm’s length. But I miss out on so much when I don’t get to know them!

Some of my favorite moments here are not awesome lessons, but the time I take to share in life with the kids. Those shared moments begin a spark of trust, and there’s not a better moment than when you see your kids letting down walls to trust that we can help them here.

My typical day is a process. It’s a journey for me and my students. I always want to be prepared for my students. More days than not, this preparation goes well beyond my lessons.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Kellie McLendon, Middle School Teacher, is from Chattanooga, Tennessee and enjoys volleyball, drinking black coffee, and eating potato chips with cookie dough ice cream.