What did you Learn today?

by | Feb 16, 2015 | Life & Faith | 9 comments

I love to learn new things. I’ve been a teacher off and on (mostly on) since about 1984. I tried a couple of times to find something else to do, but God keeps calling me back to the elementary classroom. Now I’m ‘just a sub’, but it is the best job ever.

If I had the time AND the money, I’d be in school myself every semester; I also love inspiring and engaging kids about learning. and often tell them it’s actually fun.

The kindergartners play right along, but when I make this announcement to the Big Kids (i.e. 6th graders) my enthusiasm is often met with the rolling of eyes or a yawn or two.

I stepped into 6th grade that day with fear and trepidation.  Things were not going well; students were chatting and generally ignoring me and my attempts at getting their attention were mixed.

Then it was time for US History, the time period during the settling of the 13 original American Colonies.  I knew there were a number of God fearing men who led the movement during that time and was curious to see what kind of God language there’d be in the text. People often assume God has been written right out of most of the history books, at least in Elementary School.

I was pleased to find this was not the case.

Students took turns reading paragraphs as we went around the room.  It was  joy to hear the mention of God and worship as they recounted the settling of the colonies.

After two or three students had taken their turns, I noticed a note in the sidebar and proceeded to read it out loud.
The word ‘indentured’ originally came 
from the paper that the contract between a master a servant 
was written on.  After they signed it, the paper was torn in half, 
so that each piece had an indentation that fitted into the other piece. 
The master kept one piece and the servant kept the other. 
That was the proof of their agreement.”

I never knew that…

I stopped short as it hit me, exclaiming with an ‘Oh……..so that’s where that word came from.’  

The students paused. What’s with the teacher? It’s a history lesson. We’re talking about slavery…

I proceeded to unpack the words in the sidebar a bit for them, attempting to engage them in seeing what I saw.  I asked for a piece of notebook paper, held it up in front of the class and folded it vertically.
I slid my tongue along the paper (yes) then opened it and carefully tore the paper in half.

I pointed out the indentation in the middle.

“Boys and girls, this is what it means to be an indentured servant. To fit seamlessly into the life of your master.  The slave and the master were connected in life just like the folds in this paper.”

My mind and heart were overcome with the implications as I stood in front of them.  My thoughts ran to my Jesus, about being a bondservant for him, as the Apostle Paul says.** 

Oh, to be a servant like that, to fit so seamlessly into his side, connected and folded into his heart.

The object lesson left me a little bit giddy with the revelation. As the words of one of my mentors came to mind, I blurted them out to the class.

“This is such an awesome illustration, don’t you think? To learn the meaning of this word?
“Aren’t you glad you came to school today?”

The 6th graders stayed cool as noisy cucumbers as I segued to the next topic, puzzled over my excitement.

“Mrs. Collins, why should we be glad we came to school today?”

“Ahhhhh, because maybe you learned something you never knew before, that’s why.”

Like I said, I love being a teacher. I was very glad I came to school that day.

**Ephesians 6:6-9
Linking with Kelly and the Small Wonder Community and Jennifer for Tell His Story


  1. It seems the mark of a natural teacher, and one who has not lost her passion, to still possess this giddiness toward learning all these years later. This is the kind of gift that may be hard for students to discern in the moment, but I have a hunch it is lodging in at least a few of them, for this kind of zest is contagious and of greater value than we often know in the moment. Thank you for sharing this moment with us.

  2. Kelly, I like that picture of 'seamless'…. wow. Thanks for reading 🙂 I appreciate you.

  3. Thank you for this glimpse into your daily life, Jody – I also love learning! (and teaching). I guarantee there were one or two in that room who were just as excited as you, but didn't yet dare to show it! Seamless – I read somewhere recently, the image of Christ as the seam holding all the dissonant pieces together – regardless of how messy it is, we are knit together in Christ!

  4. Nancy, as a teacher, I knew you could relate to this post…. Isn't it fun to keep learning!

  5. For years I taught the concept of indentured servants to my fourth graders, as part of their social studies curriculum. I, too, never knew where the term came from! Thank you for the history lesson today and the wonderful metaphor. Also appreciate your delightful sense of humor. Sixth graders are indeed noisy cucumbers!!

  6. I never knew where that word came from, either. You made a great on-the-spot illustration, even if the cool ones didn't show any particular appreciation for it!

  7. I love to learn, too! I'm almost 30 and still in school. 🙂 There is no doubt that your love of learning rubbed off on at least a few students! You are shaping young minds, Jody, and you should be so proud of that.

  8. Life is very interesting, Lisa, for sure. I know as a sub I have an opportunity to make and impact and be a blessing to overworked and sometimes not very excited teachers. It's a privilege–and I learn stuff.
    Thanks for reading!

  9. I have an insatiable desire for learning too. Sometimes it gets me in trouble. 🙂 But mostly it keeps life very interesting. So I'm thankful for those like you who love to teach. Your students are blessed, Jody, when you are “just a sub” for them because you are so much more.


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