“To teach as Jesus did,” as one group of new ACE 25 teachers brainstormed this week on a large sheet of butcher paper hung on an ACE office wall, is “to be adaptable to students’ needs,” “to serve others,” and to “be vulnerable.”
It’s a brave vision: that these new teachers will engage students in mastering content knowledge and become caring mentors who grow in faith and foster community at their schools and among themselves. And yet, this vision embraces the challenging and wonderful paradox of ACE summer: the demand to open oneself to both teaching and learning—to become leaders who are curious and humble, and to find joy and community through the acceptance of uncertainty and risk.
Afternoons during the first week of ACE summer introduce new teachers to the methods and skills that will initially define their time in the classroom: how to manage 20 or more children in a classroom, how to plan lessons for diverse groups of learners, and the professional expectations for Notre Dame’s M.Ed. program. ACE professors and mentors lead by example, modeling procedures for greeting students, leading class prayer, and distributing and collecting papers, all to help the newest ACE teachers navigate the first few days of school. Still, in more overwhelming moments, a new teacher might wonder: How am I preparing to teach as Jesus did? How would Christ the Teacher collect late work, quiet the class, and allocate bathroom passes?
But each morning, the members of ACE 25 also take time to reflect on the links among ACE’s three pillars of teaching, community, and prayer. Wednesday morning, for example, finds the group gathered in Remick Commons with notebooks at the ready and morning prayer cards scattered between their folding chairs, eager to hear several perspectives on the experiences of living in new communities. Kati Macaluso, the director of ACE Advocates, reflects on the role of mercy in community life, inviting new Teaching Fellows to help one another grow spiritually while living together at their ACE sites. First week reflections like this one remind ACE 25 to seek strength and personal growth in their relationships with others.
In the fall, the start of the school year will bring a host of unknowns: new students, new schools, new neighborhoods, new parishes, and new community members. And for many of the challenges that ACE 25 will encounter, there will be no course or classroom management plan. For these moments, ACE 25 teachers must find a map in the mission they have set forth for themselves at the start of their journey: to become teachers who are “creative,” “effective,” and “patient,” who “listen to silence” and act as “storytellers,” and who are not afraid to “love unconditionally” in the example of Christ.
Interested in becoming an ACE Teacher? Visit ace.nd.edu/teach and learn more!