Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chuck the Disguise

Have you ever seen that old Animaniacs cartoon? If you have, do you remember the short clips with the big chicken named Boo?

In the "Chicken Boo" clips, there is this chicken who walks into different scenarios, and with a relatively simple disguise (like a jacket and a fake mustache) everyone suddenly believes that he is an expert in a particular area. Now, this chicken can't talk. In fact, he continues to exhibit basic barn yard chicken mannerisms, but somehow he saves the day while continuing to fool everyone. Right at the end of every Chicken Boo clip the disguise somehow falls off and someone will say, "Wa-- Wait. You're not a man, YOU'RE a CHICKEN!" He then runs off with everyone chasing him.

The first few years of teaching, that is how I felt.

I had been a full-time warehouse worker for 6 long years before I was a teacher. It was my life. Working in tractor trailers, driving fork lifts, and moving boxes... Lots of boxes. Then one day, with a tie around my neck, I found myself standing in front of a classroom full of wide-eyed children ready to learn. I can still remember the theme song running through my head.

♫ You wear a disguise
You look like human guys
but you're not a man
you're a chicken, Boo. ♫

I really felt like someone would figure me out. "Hey. You're not a teacher! You're a warehouse worker!" Because of this I began to overcompensate. I wanted to please my boss and please the parents and please the kids and please my fellow teachers. It was overwhelming.

It also wasn't working.

I was consumed with, what some would call, the fear of man. And just like the Proverb says, it was a snare.

I would love to tell you the whole story of how I made it out of that snare, all of the life-changing events and the minute revelations that I experienced, but there isn't time for all of that. Instead, let me tell you where I am at now and something that I believe is important to be the teachers that we need to be.
"So then, men ought to regard us [teachers] as servants of Christ ... Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."
I Cor. 4:1-5

I wish I could develop this more, but I need to go over my lesson plans one more time before the night is over. So, instead of a fully developed thought, I am going to give you three points. These points (I believe) are essential to a teacher becoming what they could/should be.

  1. Care very little for who is (or could be) judging you.

  2. Care very much for the Lord who is judging you. Seek to please Him!

  3. Keep a clear conscience (i.e. Do what you know is right).

There is nothing wrong with trying to please your earthly bosses, but remember, they hired YOU. Chances are they had an idea of what they were getting when they hired you, and more importantly, God desires to use your uniqueness. It is that same uniqueness that He created and has designed a specific purpose.

To sum up: You might be a large chicken wearing human clothes.


  1. Wow, what a start! So much here to discuss and work through. I'll start at the end. The man who hired me into my current teaching position knew EXACTLY who I was from our very first meeting. He too was/is a believer and saw something in me he clearly wanted on his campus. In fact, one year into the job he asked me to become the student government adviser guiding the student leaders on campus. Not only that, but my second (and last) year as adviser the elected student body president was/is also a believer. That year we made positive changes on campus that are still in place today, eight years later, and all on a public high school campus.

    If I am now a large chicken wearing human clothes then my feathers are poking through more and more each year. I and now the co-adviser for the Christian Club on campus and I can be seen caring my bible with me just about everywhere I go. Not so much as a public symbol, but as a personal reminder of where my focus in life needs to be as a child of God and that includes being a teacher. I don't feel judged by most, some, but not most. Most are curious and want to know what the heck it is that makes me so enthusiastic about life. Why am I usually in a good mood? Why do I enjoy going to work? Why do I have so many children (5)? If a believer, teacher or not, can get down to the "death to self" part of faith in Jesus Christ then God can use us in amazing ways.

  2. Yeah, I think that I tried to bite off more than I could chew with this one.

  3. Wow, I cannot tell you how much I felt like the chicken beginning my teaching career! I got my degree in elementary education, nothing fancy, I had an undergrad in theology but that was all I had going for me. And then, I was hired to teach computers. I kept waiting for the day when everyone discovered that I wasn't really a technology person. I found that God knew exactly what he was doing leading me here, I was a tech geek I just didn't know it yet! Thank God for an amazing administration who saw the potential in me that I couldn't and for believing that I could do it. 5 years later, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else!

  4. I definitely understand what you're talking about! I've been teaching test-preparation courses for three and a half years now, but there are still times that I feel like the "chicken" when I walk out of the classroom. After particularly poor teaching performances, it is crucial to remember your three points. If what I taught was done from a clear conscience and from the right motives, then I need to learn what I can from my mistakes and move on, rather than dwelling on what the students thought.

    Thanks for your thoughts, and I look forward to hearing more from you guys in the future.