By Therese Goldinger (Cohort 7)
On the last day before Christmas break I was working on Zoom with one of my first grade students. We meet everyday for 30 minutes to work on foundational skills in reading and math. We were reading a simple book about a frog who was hungry. I asked this student why the frog wouldn’t have eaten chicken wings. Excitedly, he came close to the camera and said, “The frog wouldn’t have eaten chicken wings because he doesn’t have any teeth!” I was excited he was able to answer this inferential question with a logical answer. Once we finished the story, we went through several comprehension questions and when we got to one about the sequence of events in the story, he asked me to go back to the slide that had the text on it. After looking back in the text and correctly answering the question, I asked this student if he knew what he just did that great readers ALWAYS do. He said, “I went back to the story because you always go back to the story to look for the answer.” This was followed by loud cheers from me and the student “kissing his brain” for his hard work in our session. Just two small moments in one single session with one student on one random day. These moments stitched together are what make up our days, weeks, and months as Seton Teaching Fellows; this is our work.
“We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self!” – St. Rose Phillipene Duchesne. This year, my small field for Christ looks like teaching first graders to be great readers and mathematicians. It looks like choosing an excited six year old to lead our El Camino class in making the sign of the cross or sitting in the hallway talking with a second grader about the love of a father. I tend this field by showing up everyday. I plant the seeds in my students as we go through the letters of the alphabet video day after day, or practice our Hail Mary at the start of every El Camino class. Then, I care for these seeds by doing my best to give fully to my students each day, teaching them that they matter, that they are loved, that they are capable. Just as I come back day after day to my students and do not expect perfection from them, but simply a willingness to try their best, so the Lord is always there waiting for me. He does not require me to have great achievements, he is merciful in my weakness and meets me where I am. All He asks is that I give everything that I can for each day. That I show up, that I try to be the best teacher and catechist I can be, that I am patient and forgiving, and that I hold back nothing for myself but give all of myself, first to Him, and then to the people he has put in front of me.
Therese Goldinger is a Cohort 7 Seton Teaching Fellow working as the 1st Grade Learning Specialist during the school day at Brilla Public Charter School in NYC, and a 1st and 2nd grade El Camino teacher. She graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a dual degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. Therese is beloved in our schools and in her community for her grace and her heart for humble service.