Answers will vary …

I can remember being in school … especially Science … when we would have to answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Many times I didn’t really even understand the questions. I would match up the words from the question to a sentence in the text, and copy that down. I didn’t realize, until I became a teacher, how obvious it must have been that I didn’t have a clue.

I had to give a report in one of my high school history classes. It was about a battle and I really had no idea what was going on. I’m not sure if I just really wasn’t reading the text or if I had that much trouble understanding it. But I basically copied everything I could find and made it into an organized report. I read it to the class and then, to my surprise, the teacher began to ask me questions. I didn’t have a clue. He called me out that day and said, “Do you even know what you are talking about?”  I said, “Well yes” and named that battle, but that’s as far as I could go.

I’ve seen this happen with my students a few times. Their answers show me they really don’t have any idea what we’re doing. Yesterday was a perfect example. I’ve had them doing some little books that have a story and then comprehension questions at the end. They are supposed to read the story with their group and then answer the questions. I didn’t notice until after the first day that the answers are actually upside down at the bottom of the page. At first I thought it was interesting that they didn’t notice. Then I started getting papers with this for their answers … “answers will vary”.  🙂

One boy wrote “answers will vary” and then turned it in. I told him that he couldn’t just copy from the bottom of the page. I explained what “answers will vary” meant. I then explained that he needed to find the real answer and write it in a complete sentence. He brought me this: There are answers will vary. Sheesh!!!

We talk often about how the Bible is hard to understand. I have always found it hard to read and confusing. I used that as my excuse not to read it for a long time. Our teacher often points out that it isn’t really that confusing to understand “love your neighbor” or “do not murder”. This is true.

I realized that I can understand the commands and instructions from God. What I don’t always understand are the stories. I don’t always know the background needed to understand exactly what is going on. Several times I have thought someone was a great person and then had the teacher point out that they weren’t. This last week we read about Moses not getting to enter the Promised Land. I had always felt so sorry for him. I had written in the margin some things about how sad he must have been and how hard that must have been for him. Then someone pointed out that he was getting to go to Heaven. So really, it was a better deal for him. I hadn’t ever noticed that part.

If I were to be given a test about Bible stories I might write “answers will vary” on some of them. I just don’t always understand exactly what’s going on. But what I realized this week is that it really isn’t crucial that I know all the details of every story. What is crucial is that I understand the commands of God. Those are very clear … unless we choose to make them confusing. We wonder why “answers will vary” from church to church … isn’t it because the Bible isn’t clear? Not at all! We don’t all have the same answers because we aren’t always willing to admit that something is different from what we once thought.

Once again … my students have taught me something. Amazing what good teachers they are. I’m grateful to be a better student now than I was in the past.


Change Takes Effort

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power (I can) and love (I must) and discipline (I will).”  2 Tim 1:7

Last night’s lesson was very motivating. It reminded me that I  have a choice in many areas of my life. I can’t change others, but I can change myself. I’m rarely ever just stuck with something being the way it is … if I want to … I can change it. I will say that I want things … but then I don’t follow through. My laziness and lack of motivation are greater than my desire for change. I’m not a person that puts much stock in “the new year”. However, I have a few specific goals for this next year that I really want to follow through with. I’m not going to tell you what they are because then I might be held accountable. 🙂 I was praying about them last night … I figured God already knows so I might as well tell Him what I’m trying to do. I was trying to be specific and I was asking Him to give me the discipline to follow through. I fell asleep feeling motivated and determined.

Then this morning I opened my email and this was in my Inbox:

Story of the Day

I know I promised I wouldn’t complain, she said, but I’m not ready to start just yet.

This sounds so much like me …. my motivation went right out the window. It may be a long year.


What do you say?

What do you say to a child whose IQ  and short term memory will probably prohibit her from learning much more than she already knows?

What do you say since her IQ doesn’t prevent her from knowing that she will probably never learn much more than she already knows?

I’m really struggling with this. We are going to do all we can to help her learn every single thing that she can. But how do we alleviate the frustration this deficit still brings to such an innocent child?

Is it better to tell her the “honest truth” so that she doesn’t get frustrated over things she is not capable of doing? Or do we force her through the frustration by pushing her to do things she is not capable of doing? In 11 years I’ve never faced this dilemma. I’ve never seen a child with such a desire to learn, that actually recognized the inability. I believe she thinks I can do something magical that will change her life. What I feel I can change is her attitude … I just haven’t figured out how. I need to know how to help her celebrate who she is … what she can do … the sensitivity of her heart … the love of family and friends.

I have a friend whose life was changed because her second grade teacher told her that Jesus would always listen. That was a long time ago … in a world that didn’t want to take God out of everything. Do I try to pass on this same gift to her knowing there could be some negative repercussions?

As I watched her cry in two different classes today I just kept asking myself .. “What do you say?”


A place of refuge …

I don’t have much to update on my student. She ended up getting in a fight and was actually out of class for almost a week. We are working with her every chance we get. Please continue praying for her.

Put staff changes … curriculum changes … hormonal middle schoolers … and allergy season all together and you have a bit of mess. Everyone is stressed and needing a place of refuge.

 In Isaiah there is a verse that is probably my favorite. It paints a picture that makes me feel safe. It makes me so ready to go Home.

Isaiah 66 … 

 11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
       at her comforting breasts;
       you will drink deeply
       and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

 12 For this is what the LORD says:
       “I will extend peace to her like a river,
       and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
       you will nurse and be carried on her arm
       and dandled on her knees.

 13 As a mother comforts her child,
       so will I comfort you;
       and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

The thought of being comforted by God like this just makes me feel like melting into His arms. As adults we are too big to rest in someone’s lap, and yet our hearts still seek that safety.

I received this picture today in an email and it made me a little jealous.

 

“Here is a heartwarming photo from the news in Sana Catarina, Brazil. A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night the folks came across this scene. An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort. No one had the heart to send him away so he was there all night.
We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus’ lap.”


Keeping a Promise

Wow … it’s only the second day and I left today, in tears. However, I truly believe that today a little girl gave me a gift … a purpose … and quite a challenge.

I’ve cried before (never in front of students) (well, once in front of students). It is usually because I’ve gotten my feelings hurt, the boys are being jerks, or I’m just fed up with my apathy and theirs. I can’t remember a time in my life when I truly cried for a child the way I did today.

We have started practicing inclusion. In spite of much positive research I still have my hang ups with this method. Call me a pessimist or whatever, but I believe some students are only harmed by being in the general ed classroom. Today proved me right … but I wish it had never happened.

The new curriculum that the gen. ed classes are using is very rigorous and runs on a tight schedule. The teachers have been told to teach it and move on … stay on schedule. One of my groups of kids is in an 8th period regular ed 6th grade class. I know for a fact that two students can barely read. One of them doesn’t even know the sounds of all the letters.

So put yourself in her shoes for a moment. You can’t read, you know most letters, and maybe some letter sounds. Your task is to fill in a sheet that is asking questions like: How old were you when you learned to read? What is the first book you read all by yourself? What do you read for fun? What does your family read around the house? You get the idea. How in the world is she supposed to answer these? Well, as can be expected, she got frustrated to the point of tears.

I took her out in the hall while the gen. ed teacher kept teaching. She went to the bathroom to get herself together and then I tried to talk to her. I couldn’t get her to say much, so I told her to let me know when she could talk about what was frustrating her and we could try to come up with a solution. About 10 minutes after going back into class, she walked up and said she was ready to tell me. We went in the hall. She took a deep breath, and with some hesitancy she said, “I need someone to teach me to read.” I am fortunate that I held it together as long as I did. I talked to her a little, tried to encourage, and promised her I would teach her to read this year. I wish I had never said promise … but I did. So as I cried … and continue to cry off and on … I see a challenge before me. Not just for her … but for all of them.

Her words planted in my heart a purpose. As a teacher it’s a purpose I should have always had … and did to some degree. But I don’t think I’ve ever cried over the education of a student. I have a promise to keep and I ask that you please pray that God gives me the ability to help this little girl. I want her to be able to look me in the eye, with tears of joy next time,  and say, “I can read.”


Roots

Wow … what does it say when you can’t even remember how to log in to your own blog?

I have been away a long time. Some of it is because of my schedule, but much of it has been a lack of inspiration. My mind has been racing so much it is sometimes difficult to capture a thought. Well the last few days I have been in a weepy mood and just seemed to have crashed. This is common for me in the summer when I’m living without a set schedule. I’m impressed that it really didn’t hit until the end of July … progress.

Yesterday many of us attended a memorial for a friend’s mom. Our friend commented later that she hadn’t gotten a glimpse into heaven. Exactly what I had been thinking. This was a memorial that was truly a celebration of a life well lived. It was inspiring to hear the stories told about this woman by people who had been touched by her in life changing ways. It makes you want to live your life better.

I was kind-of reminded of a wedding when we got there. At weddings the families usually sit on their own sides. You have to choose to root for the groom or the bride. Well we weren’t choosing any sides, but our group of friends ended up sitting all together. I counted at least 19 people. Many of us didn’t even really know our friend’s mom (or each other in some cases), but we were there to support someone we love much through a difficult time. To celebrate with her … to grieve with her … to hold her up … to fill her heart. As we sang, I began to think of the people surrounding me. I had friends from the past and friends I’ve only known the last few years. We were all gathered together because of a common love for a friend. Hmmm … a common love. We tend to speak of this common love often when we talk about God’s family. I was never more aware of my place in that family as I was yesterday. I needed to feel surrounded.

This morning I was looking at my plants that are in the living room. I have one that I actually received when my aunt died years ago. It is one of those plants that spreads and will go everywhere if you don’t keep it pruned. As I was trying to untangle it from the other plants and get it out of their personal space, I saw something I haven’t seen before. It had actually rooted itself into another plant’s pot. Suddenly the phrase “being rooted and established in love” popped into my head. I got a picture of all of those friends being rooted together in One pot. We have our own but we get our prime nourishment from the same Source.

As I tried to untangle all the parts of this plant it became almost impossible. Although it frustrated me with the plant … it made me smile to think … “Go ahead Satan, try to untangle us … it’ll never happen.” I find comfort in that thought.

Even more comforting at times like this is the thought of God’s love. This is my favorite description …

Ephesians 3 …  14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

You can be assured that in the family of God … personal space doesn’t exist. This is actually a good thing.


Hmmmm ….

I miss writing. I miss feeling a little more in touch with people, and I miss the challenge I used to feel when I would try to come up with something to write about. I just haven’t had much time to sit and idly read blogs … or write them. It’s amazing how much your internet time decreases when your job internet filter doesn’t let you on blogs. Not that I would neglect my work 🙂 but even if I could just browse during my lunch it would help me step away from the chaos a little.

With summer break just a few weeks away I’m hoping to have some more “me” time, which will bring me back here a lot more often.

For now, I’ll just leave you with some encouraging statements I received this week from some of my students …

“Man, that’s why I hate teachers like you.”

“I like you, Miss, because you never let us get away with anything.” (I think he was being sarcastic)

“I wish Miss _________ (put teacher from last year’s name here) was still here.”

“You wore those shoes like everyday this year.” ( Nice of him to notice as I’m trying to show him how to diagram sentences.)

And my personal favorite … “Are we going to have to be in this class next year?” (Such love)

No wonder summer break looks so appealing.