When I was applying for the Jesuits, I was thinking about my back-up plan if I was denied. If not a Jesuit, I wanted to be a teacher. I probably would have applied for a program like Teach for America had I not been accepted (and then the back-up for that just for kicks would have been to train as a masseur. I used to give massages before I entered, and many said I did a pretty good job). Who I am most definitely has been influenced by the many wonderful teachers I have had throughout my life, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been provided the education I received. They helped to shape and develop the person I am today and the way I think about the world around me.
As a result, I look to the future and towards my upcoming assignment at Jesuit High School with a lot of excitement and consolation. In this upcoming period of my formation called regency, most Jesuits are typically missioned to teach high school at one of our Jesuit high schools around the country for around two to three years. I will be teaching four sections of freshmen faith formation, and with two of my other Jesuit brothers teaching the same class, none of these freshmen will be able to get away from Jesuit without having had at least one Jesuit in the classroom.
It's a curious thing to think that, at age 27, this will be my first full time job ever, since I entered the Jesuits right out of college. I have spent practically all of my life in the classroom, which obviously will not change in these upcoming years. But, I will now be on the opposite side of the classroom for a change, and thank God for that!
In preparation for regency, I had the privilege along with a number of other neo-regents from across the country to get some teacher training here in California. Half of the group was placed at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, and the other half was placed at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, which is where I was assigned for the summer. Working with my master teacher, I was able to make some important notes about the vital details I need to keep in mind for the fall such as classroom management and lesson planning. If I can come up with some arbitrary numbers, it seems to me that 10% of teaching is the actual content of a course and 90% of teaching is the manner in which that content is conveyed to the students.
When I was talking to a older Jesuit a number of weeks ago, he remarked that I should simply aim at surviving my first year of regency. Well, that seems like a rather minimal goal to have and which also gives the sense that the first year teaching will kinda suck. While surviving might be what ends up happening, I would like to do more than simply survive my first year in regency. My goal is to thrive God willing.
As a teacher, I expect to be quite demanding at an appropriate level for incoming freshmen while being fair at the same time. I want to begin challenging them to think critically about faith and to provide them with the some tools to begin thinking about it more deeply. I hope to develop budding prayer lives that aims at a relationship of depth with God. While doing this, I also want to love my students, and this certainly does not mean giving out an easy 'A.'
Well, these are goals anyway and hopefully what I don't end up doing is simply crashing-and-burning. And hopefully I don't end up burning for being considered a heretic, lol.
I would like to mention that I am extremely grateful thus far to have amazing support from the school and Jesuit community in Portland. I feel that they have gone out of their way to show how much they are looking forward to having new Jesuits and have made sure that the proper structures are in place to enable me to do my best.
This is the final post of this series that I have written throughout this past week. If you have been following along, I hope it has been a good read. I was given a real gift the other day when an incoming Jesuit novice wrote me saying how much he found my writing over the past year to be moving and inspirational to him. That makes my writing completely worth the time. I never know who reads it, but I throw my seeds (or whatever it is I throw) and hope that my reader is able to find at least one thing that is helpful to them.
I'm now off to Los Altos, CA for an 8-day silent retreat. But, before that, my sister has just come home with sesame balls. Mmmmmmm