Tag Archives: students

The World In A Cart: The World In The Word


When I was thinking of a topic for a post today I was thinking about the future, the repitition of semesters here at work and the changes I make over the years in teaching the same courses.  It came to the fore yesterday when I was looking all over my classroom for 6 envelopes with little slips of paper in them.  This is a partenting activity that I have been doing for years and it is still one of the best activities we do.

Together these thoughts led me to look back at what I posted on this blog two years ago today.  That is what you will be reading below.  Enjoy.

When I was in high school (can’t believe I just wrote that) if I wanted information about the world I would dig out an atlas or the encyclopedia.  There was lots of information there, but it was not necessarily up to date.  Today I wheeled the world into my classroom in one of the school’s Mac-carts.

Ideally the students would all have a netbook or laptop all the time.  This isn’t the case yet at my school but still there is a huge change.  Today in my class I had students in contact with community agencies in several cities, looking up how to make tied baby blankets, researching statistics on childhood obesity in Canada, writing project proposals, designing websites, designing stickers to go along with a calendar they are making and more.  In some other classrooms and schools children are using programs like Skype to talk with students and teachers in other countries and even working on group projects with kids all over.

Has it made things better, this globalization in our education system?  It has to be more useful for kids to be planning projects for the community and or with people in other countries than drawing and colouring maps.  Does it matter if I know the GDP of a country from three years ago when I can find out the economic reports from last month?  The internet lets us keep up with a quickly changing world.

There are some things that don’t change.  God doesn’t change, the Bible doesn’t change, although it is are easier to hunt for particular sections and quotes using the computer.    When you open an atlas there is information about a lot of places but it is not the world.  When we open the Bible and read God’s word that really is the world!

 

Storm Day Denied: When Wearing The PJs Inside Out Doesn’t Do The Trick


If you live in an area which has snow storms during the winter, chances are you are familiar with the unexpected treat of a storm day.  For the most part these are only a boon for school students and teachers as technically they are caused by it being unsafe to have the buses on the roads.

If this is all sounding familiar to you, then you may also be aware of some of the superstitions that go along with the forecast of a storm.  When the radio first forecasts any amount of snow hopes begin to rise, and when they change to a snowfall, or winter storm warning the action begins.  First, of course, it is important not to talk about it due to a risk of jinxing things.  Then there are the night-time rituals like putting your pajamas on inside out, getting homework done, mittens under the pillow, and they go on.

Much as you may rationally understand that there will not be a storm day, when the alarm goes off the next morning and you don’t hear a cancellation notice, your heart falls.  From that moment frowns and grumbles are the order of the day.  The kids are extra cranky, especially if they didn’t finish their homework.  They spend the whole day looking longingly out the window and asking if they are going to get sent home early.

In some ways this is like the Christian story.  We have the forecast of the second coming of Jesus, of the New Earth.  When it happens it will be completely undeserved, a total change from the everyday with nothing scheduled, no to-do list, and no struggles.  We know it is coming,  and yet when we get up each day it is in the same life, same hassles, the same old Earth.  We don’t need to go through special rituals, wear things a particular way, this is already a done deal and all we have to do is continue to believe.  

On Guard: How To Abide By a Code of Conduct


Standing Guard

Yesterday was the first day of school for 2011/2012 and as I was going over things with my 140 new students we looked at the code of conduct for schools in New Brunswick.  There is nothing shocking in the code and, as I said to the kids, if we could all follow that every day our school would be amazing!  The thing is that we all intend to do just that.  There is not one of us, I don’t think, who gets up in the morning planning ahead to break a few rules, be rude, pick a fight, deface some property and maybe steal something!

I am also listening to The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and now feel I have to temper that last statement.  One of the characters is an exception to what I wrote in the last paragraph.  She does, indeed, wake in the morning with plans to, at one point in the book, connive to get someone to murder the Duke of Buckingham, break her out of a sort of prison, and provide her transportation from England to France where she has further designs to murder, or cause to be murdered, at least one more person.  I can hardly stand to listen to those portions of the book in which she is weaving her plans!  She is, in a word, evil!

I suppose that people who make their livings through crime are often engaged in planning to do things which would be contrary to the code of conduct.  I do maintain, however, that my students do not leave home in the morning with a plan to break the code of conduct.  What happens to most of us is that we get caught in unexpected circumstances for which we lack the preparation, or the strength to avoid reacting on a purely emotional level.  Sadly, neither my ever vigilant pooch, nor a selection of rapiers will protect me against the next time I

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rykneethling/4543063042

slip up and do something I will later regret.  My only real shield is the Word and my strength is the Holy Spirit.  The more I keep what I know about God’s commandments and the knowledge of the great sacrifice of Jesus in the forefront of my mind, the less likely I am to fail and the more ready I will be to apologize to anyone I have wronged.

PROVINCIAL STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT
As a student, I am responsible for my own behaviour to the best of my abilities.
I will be responsible for my own personal choices.
I will respect others’ differences, ideas and opinions and treat everyone fairly.
I will not tolerate bullying of any kind and I will report bullying when I have knowledge of it.
I will do whatever I can to help those around me who may be struggling.
I will respect the school’s rules.
I will attend my classes, do my homework, and be prepared and on time.
I will behave in a way that is empathetic, responsible and civil to those around me.
I will resolve my conflicts in a constructive manner.
I will treat school property and the property of others with respect.
I will respect myself. I will respect others. I will respect my environment.

Please Step Up: Calls For Change


I don’t know who wrote this or where it originated, but I ran across it on Face Book one day a couple of weeks ago and it is one of the few things that I actually copied and pasted into my status update.

“Special request to all you kids returning to school in the next few weeks. If you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn’t have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in the most “in” clothes PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life! Pass It On ♥”

Unlike the “games” people play on Face Book which involve obscure notices with meanings blocked from the opposite gender or some other group kept out-of-the-loop, this message is clear about its intent and encouraging positive change.  This sort of move toward kindness, as you know if you follow my blog, is of great importance to me.

Where have we heard these sentiments before?  If Jesus had used Face Book the status update may have read something like this…”

My brothers and sisters, fellow children of God, don’t waste your time while you are waiting for my return .  If someone is struggling in any way, hungry, thirsty, friendless, or being bullied, LOVE them and do what you can to help them. Say hi or at least smile at them, share what you have. You never know what others might be facing in their lives. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life, and what you do for them you are doing for me! Pass It On ♥

The Chairs Are All Stacked, The Papers All Filed


It is the last day of work for teachers in my school district today.  In classrooms everywhere the desks and chairs are all piled up, the paperwork is all filed and our desks are cleared of any sign of all that we have done for the last ten months.  I joke with my students that there are only two days in the year when you can actually see my desktop, the first day I report to work and the day before I leave for the summer.

In our “paperless” society my desk was normally buried under seven or eight piles of paper; things to be marked, things to be filed with the office, notices to pass out, notices that were handed back in, planning aids, and professional readings usually to a depth of about three inches.  As well my in boxes and out boxes would be filled, sometimes to overflowing.  In amongst all this there were batteries for the babies, id tags and security bracelets, bottles, diapers etc. (if you are new you should know that my class uses the Real Care Babies).

Along with the papers, my computer was on and running almost continually (except for that one horrible day when we couldn’t get any of the electronics to run and had to teach the old-fashioned way) with mark programs, attendance programs etc.

More important than all of this, of course, were the thirty some young people in the room with me who needed attention, inspiration, direction and often comfort and guidance as well.  When not in class, before school, at lunch and after school teachers are engaging with students, watching for problems, and running clubs and organizations.

So, here’s to my empty desk and those of all the other teachers who are finishing their school yearsMay our coffee mugs grace our deck furniture and side tables, may our email all be of a personal nature, and the desktops gather dust until we begin it all again in the fall!

Evaluation and Testing: Our Everyday Need for Positive Feedback


flickr.com/photos/english106/4357228335

I am supervising exams this week at my school.  Right now I am covering another teacher’s class while he has a break.  This is a grade eleven math class, and if they have questions I will be of no use to them at all.  I did pass math in high school but that was a very long time ago now.

What I see in front of me is a group of twenty some students with calculators, papers, and pencils.  They glance back and forth between their exam, the calculator and the booklet.  Some are looking off into space as if praying for divine inspiration or intervention, others are hunched right over their desks.  There are looks of determination, fear, and the occasional wry smile as we briefly make eye contact.  There is near silence, papers turn, pencils scratch and feet shift on the floor, but there is no talking.

When you walk into an exam room, prepared or not, you know that in the next two hours your work will be judged.  If you have a good day and a following wind, your exam mark may raise your over-all grade but you know that it is more likely to go the other way.  On the up side, when the hours are over, so is the course and in June that means summer break!

Many of our life evaluations, however, do not take place in a classroom and are not neatly scheduled and limited to a two-hour block of time.  We are often not even aware that we are being tested; that a customer is forming judgments about our competence or friendliness; that a student is deciding whether or not we are trustworthy enough to ask for help; total strangers may be deciding whether we are doing a good job raising our children.  We will never know the results of most of these tests.  Unless a customer goes to complain or compliment we won’t realize that they don’t return to the store or that they avoid our check-out.  The student who decides against us will just walk away, and we almost certainly will not hear the strangers opinion of our parenting.

Whether or not we have any right to evaluate the people we meet and work with, we do it naturally.  Unless you are a person’s supervisor or they do something hurtful to you, I see no reason that we should share negative feedback with them.  Neither do we need to share with a person the nasty thing we heard someone else say about them, though we might want to defend a friend with the person doing the criticism.  What I think we do need to be doing, however, is telling people when we think positive things about them, or when we hear someone else making a positive comment about them.

We don’t hear enough positive feedback.  Certainly we don’t tend to give ourselves positive feedback, we tend to focus on our flaws and our failures.  This does little good, and contributes a great deal to our level of stress.  It may be as little as a smile or the like button on Face Book, or as big as nominations for awards or letters of thanks, but we need to praise more, encourage more, love more!

Post 120: Are We Having Fun Yet?


 

flickr.com/photos/shanepope/2375499336

On Tuesday, June 7 I will have been writing this blog for five months.  Today’s post will be #120 and I got to thinking that I must certainly be repeating myself by now.  If this is the case, I heartily apologize.  I don’t go back in my post list very often and I write what comes to mind on any given day. 

 

Despite the fact that my teenage daughter gives me a hard time for doing so, I did a little checking on the stats for curlingupwithGod.  In those five months there have been 9,800 visits to my site, many undoubtedly directed by a search for something which led them to me erroneously.  The Footprints poem seems to be the most common search term which directs people here.  I have no way of knowing whether these people actually stop and read something or just scan quickly for the lyrics and then head on their way.  On my busiest day I had 245 visits which was really exciting!   I have been thrilled to have people write me notes occasionally and with those and my responses I have 77 comments.

 

Every time I write a post I have the option of tagging which may lead people to the post.  I didn’t do much of this at first, but have discovered how important it can be.   WordPress keeps track of the most common tags and makes them available to choose rather than writing them in each time.  I thought the list was pretty interesting.  When I see it, the words I have used the most are actually in a bigger font.

 

Bible blog bully change choices choir Christianity church cross details distractions Easter evangelism Facebook faith fashion forgiveness God help Holy Spirit improvement Jesus justice kindness leadership Lectionary Lent love music prayer preaching problems promise quiet reflection sin song stress students survival teachers The Message//Remix:Solo time Twitter worry

 

Back to the title question, are we having fun yet?  I know that I am enjoying the writing and any associated thinking and reflecting that is associated with that activity.  Some days I will have several images or comments pop into my head which lead to posts and I have to type them in before I lose them.  So far my feedback has been good and I’m assuming that for every person who goes to the trouble of writing a comment there are several who at least smile and nod at some point in their reading and that is great.

 

See you at 250 🙂

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? Articulating a Calling


One of the things that all people seek is the “right path” for their lives.  My grade twelve students are hitting it head-on right now as they make their plans for future career paths and any related schooling which may be required.  How do you balance what you enjoy with what will pay the bills?  From an early age people ask us what we want to be when we grow up?  And who among us has not at one time or another wondered if our parents had us by accident?  As Christians we have the added dimension of calling.  What is it God has planned for us? For what use were we given our particular talent set?


If you doubt that people are looking for this calling, Google search for Rick Warren.  His book The Purpose Driven Life has been translated into 50 languages and has sold some 25 million copies.  Along with the phenomenal success of his book, Warren has trained 400,000 ministers in his Purpose Driven Church strategy.  The topic of the first 7 of 40 chapters in his book? “What On Earth Am I Here For?”

In my case, I basically fell into my current career.  Early in junior high I planned to grow up to be a minister.  In grade nine I decided I was going to go to Mt. Allison to take music and education.  I wanted to be just like my junior high band teacher.  I did go to Mt. Allison for a university degree in music, but by then I was certain that I would not be teaching school!  I didn’t even like kids!  Twenty-five years after graduating I am looking at retiring from teaching in six or seven years.


Even as I was in the midst of this career I still felt called to ministry.  I began doing pulpit supply work around eight years ago, and five years ago actually applied for a position as university chaplain.  When I did not get that position I took it to mean that, for the time being at least, I was doing what was intended.  That may have been too simplistic a view, but the years since have been some of the most satisfying of my career. 

I feel my life experiences have uniquely prepared me to teach my courses on family and child development (I haven’t taught music in years) and to work to further justice and positive climate in my school.  I also believe that all of this is still preparing me for ministry within the church. 

According to the PCC pamphlet, “Am I being called?” “The primary vocation of all Christians is to be in relationship with God through Christ. We delight in God’s gracious love and respond in praiseand gratitude. As the Shorter Catechism says, “Our chief end is to glorify and enjoy God forever…For most Christians, their primary arena for exercising their vocation is in the world and the exercise of their vocation in the church is in a voluntary capacity.”  Whatever your vocation, may the Spirit of God guide you in your work.


For more about Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life go to rickwarren.com

For more on calling to ministry with Presbyterian Church in Canada check out this link  http://www.presbyterian.ca/files/webfm/ourresources/mcv/Am%20I%20being%20called%20for%20web%20booklet.pdf

The World In A Cart: The World In The Word


When I was in high school (can’t believe I just wrote that) if I wanted information about the world I would dig out an atlas or the encyclopedia.  There was lots of information there, but it was not necessarily up to date.  Today I wheeled the world into my classroom in one of the school’s Mac-carts.

 

Ideally the students would all have a netbook or laptop all the time.  This isn’t the case yet at my school but still there is a huge change.  Today in my class I had students in contact with community agencies in several cities, looking up how to make tied baby blankets, researching statistics on childhood obesity in Canada, writing project proposals, designing websites, designing stickers to go along with a calendar they are making and more.  In some other classrooms and schools children are using programs like Skype to talk with students and teachers in other countries and even working on group projects with kids all over.

 

Has it made things better, this globalization in our education system?  It has to be more useful for kids to be planning projects for the community and or with people in other countries than drawing and colouring maps.  Does it matter if I know the GDP of a country from three years ago when I can find out the economic reports from last month?  The internet lets us keep up with a quickly changing world.

 

There are some things that don’t change.  God doesn’t change, the Bible doesn’t change, although it is are easier to hunt for particular sections and quotes using the computer.    When you open an atlas there is information about a lot of places but it is not the world.  When we open the Bible and read God’s word that really is the world!

Have You Ever Felt You Met Christ In A Complete Stranger?


Entertaining Angels

February 22, 2006

This is my response to the title question above from a course I took on spirituality.

 

I am beginning to write my response today with absolutely no idea what I am going to say.  I have struggled with this question at length.  I meet total strangers all the time.  Every semester four new groups of students enter my classroom, 240 new faces every year.  I meet total strangers at stores and activities many times each week.

 

Is the question whether or not we see God in the stranger or Christ specifically?  I am intellectually aware that God is present in every person I meet, hard as it is to feel sometimes.  Is this not true also of Christ?  In the context of the question, though, does it mean do I see someone to whom I should offer hospitality?  Or is it looking for someone who sacrifices himself for me, this is what Christ did for me.  I will assume that God and Christ are meant, Christ being used due to the relation to the scripture reference re. doing things for Christ when we do them for the least of his brothers and sisters.

 

I make a point to try to get to know people I meet.  I work hard to remember names, even though I am not naturally good at remembering names.  I easily strike up conversations with people.  Does this disqualify these interactions?  If we know each other by name after a few encounters and share some information about our lives, does that mean we are no longer strangers?

 

Hospitality within the home was an interesting section in Thompson’s book.  When our children are born, they are definitely strangers and oh how we welcome them and love them immediately.  I definitely saw Christ in my girls when they were born.  On the other hand, my step-son offered me hospitality when he accepted me, a stranger, into his life with his father.  It is largely to his own credit that we got along so well, as it started with his welcome.

 

The main venue of my giving hospitality is my classroom.  As I said earlier I have 240 students every year.  I welcome them, I learn their names (eventually), I respond to them.  There are always some challenging students who make it harder to be welcoming.  I try very hard to remember that each day is a new start with those students and to welcome them by name when they come in; sometimes I ask them to help me with something.  This is not always successful either, but I do make the attempt.  If they chose to refuse my hospitality, I can not force them.

 

I had a student years ago, let’s call her Susie.  Susie had suffered some awful things in her early years.  By the time I had her she was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression etc.  She was quite overweight and wore huge clothing as if trying to hide that she had a body.  She was extremely emotional, and clearly needed far more help than I could give her.  I was teaching Personal Development and Career Planning 10.  As we went through the course I did my best to keep close track of her progress…not her mark, but her state of mind.  She soon felt comfortable to share with me some of her struggles.  Knowing that she had professionals doing the real work, I made sure that I was available to listen to her, and did not judge her.  Her journal writing was amazing, she was clearly very intelligent, but she did not do well in my class.  In the end she was out of school for so much of the semester that she restarted in semester 2. 

 

The next year I had her again in Family Living.  She was doing better, but again she did not make it all the way through the term.  Even though I knew that she was very low, she always smiled when we spoke.  My heart cried out for her when she dropped the semester again.  The third year I saw her often in the hallway during first semester.  She was like a new person!  She had lost weight (not that that is central, but as indicative of her feeling more comfortable with herself), she was smiling all the time!  I made a point of talking to her in the halls, letting her know how glad I was she was doing well.  I had her again second semester.  She was in two of my classes and she brightened every day for me.  She worked really hard and listened attentively, and she smiled.  She stayed after class to talk to me, and I always feel better after we talk.  At the start of this story I was talking of Susie as being a stranger who came to me weak and broken, whom I helped.  By the end, Susie had become my helper.  I see Christ in Susie.  Once she was a total stranger, and she became a proximity friend.  I have not seen her since she graduated, but she has touched my life.

 

Over the years I have often accepted the hospitality of strangers.  I played in the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra for years and every time we went on a rehearsal weekend or on tour I was billeted with people I had never previously met.  In some houses I slept in lofts, in some in children’s rooms while their occupants slept in the family room.  Some served amazing meals, and some just what they could afford, but they all took a huge risk letting a high school or university student into their homes for one or two nights.  At the time I appreciated their generosity and welcome.  Now that I am older, I can see even more clearly what they went through to provide me with a safe place to lay my head for the night. 

 

While our congregation hosted the Synod a few years ago, it only seemed fitting that I should take charge of finding billets.  The shoe was on the other foot as I asked people to open their homes to strangers.  I hosted two ministers here and, while I was offering shelter to them, they gave me so much more in the great discussions we had in the evenings.   God truly blessed me with these strangers. 

 

Opportunities to serve Christ through serving strangers are available to us every day.  They may not look very clean.  They may seem much more important than us.  They may be waiting on us in a restaurant or looking for service in our workplace.  Our spiritual calling as Christians is to remember that every person is our brother or sister and to offer them what we can.  All this we do in service to God, present in these strangers.