Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | February 22, 2012

Life update…the vocational part

Well, it has been quite awhile since I have written on this blog. I suppose I got busy and just decided to share my thoughts with Rebekah. Now that I am home with Hannah I have more time to write down my thoughts. My life has been full of changes the past few months, most of them good but a few a bit more difficult. Hannah has been the best change. 🙂

The beginning of September started a difficult time in my year. From middle school through this fall I always thought that I wanted to be a high school or middle school science teacher and have worked towards that goal. I went to Messiah College and got a B.S. in Biology in three years and started at the graduate level to get my teaching certification from Drexel University. I enjoyed all of my classes leading up to my student teaching semester. As expected student teaching was difficult and something I was not really prepared for (which is just sort of the way that has to be). I was confronted with the reality that most of the expectations of me were things I didn’t really like doing and things I wasn’t really good at.

For example, one of the requirements is to have lesson plans written and submitted ahead of time. I can do this if it is one lesson from time to time but I have a lot more trouble doing them in volume. I also have a trouble with the ahead of time part of things. This was most likely the task I had the most trouble with (another was being innovative in my lesson ideas). Unfortunately, I was getting myself into some trouble by not fulfilling these requirements. There other area I really got myself into trouble is that I wasn’t asking for help. I am a stubbornly independent person and have a lot of trouble asking for help when I feel that something is my job or responsibility.

I got to a point where I realized I was in way over my head and needed help from my cooperating teacher, so I asked for help but didn’t get the type of help I needed. In retrospect I think that it would have helped to be mentored more. Anyway I tried a little bit more but was struggling so much that I had a bit of an emotional breakdown. I had been up all night trying to catch up on my work and barely making headway and made a rash decision. I said that I would not be coming in to teach because I needed time to reevaluate where I was and get some help. My mistake here is that I did this without leaving the teacher any resources as to what to do. This is a bit of a “catch 22” in my opinion but that doesn’t make my choice wise…it just served to make me feel more stuck.

I was able to talk with Rebekah, a number of my friends from church and my pastor who gave my wise advice. That was to trust God and see if I can pick up the pieces instead of quitting and at minimum to restore relationships. In the next two days I was able to talk with some of the faculty at Drexel where we reached the mutual decision that it would be best for me to withdraw from the student teaching placement.

Since then I have been working through what went wrong in my mind. I was able to take a personality test a few weeks after all this that helped me understand some things about what happened. Skills that I would rank as very important in being a teacher in today’s system were the skills that I scored lowest on. The areas I scored best on lead to a bit of a different career…I’m not entirely sure what. Just today I realized the biggest reason I wanted to become a teacher, I loved the way that my teachers were able to take time just for me to talk with me and help me. This is what I wanted in teaching, but I now realize that teaching is probably not the best way for me to accomplish this goal.

This has had an effect on what Rebekah and I think I may do when we, Lord willing, move to Africa as missionaries. Originally, our plan was that I would either teach or become involved in education development research, and projects. My thinking has moved towards something simpler and potentially more profound. I have found that I love hospitality, cooking and having the opportunity to sit down and talk with people on an individual or small group level. I have known this about myself for a while, but these events and the previously mentioned personality test have helped me to see this more clearly.

For a number of years now I have been a person that people seem to like to talk to about issues they are having, and I like being able to listen and love people through their difficult times. I have never really been sure why people like to open up to me but I have been thankful for the opportunities to help brothers and sisters in Christ as well as be a witness for Christ to others. Rebekah and I have decided that I should have a small restaurant/tea/coffee shop so that I can use my love of cooking and hospitality to create a place where people can gather. The idea is that I would also spend time talking with people. This isn’t a sure thing but an idea of something I might enjoy doing.

To sum up this part of my post, I am not sure where I am going with these things right now but I am trusting God to lead me. I have recently contacted a friend in leadership in the Christian Missionary Alliance (the organization Rebekah and I would like to go with as missionaries) to see what sort of training they might suggest.

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