Tag Archives: teachers

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!

 

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 🙂

My Leaky Middle Aged Brain


I spend some parts of every day thinking about topics or themes for my blog posts.  Thanks in large part to my leaky middle-aged brain, however, I have frequently lost the ideas before they make it onto the computer screen.  One day recently, for instance, I had a really good idea thought through the night before which was gone by the time I woke up. The cool idea I thought of on my way to church and the one I thought of during the sermon were gone by mid-afternoon, and I have a tenuous grasp on the idea I thought of that evening.  That, by the way, was for a series on character and I only remember that because I put it in a draft for this post.

 

I’m sure I had a better memory when I was younger, which stands to reason as our brains only continue to make connections and coat them with myelin until around the age of twenty.  My real issue is that when I am talking with people and or teaching I frequently start a sentence and either can not find a word I need, or lose complete track of where the sentence was going.  My friends tell me that this goes along with perimenopause and is totally normal and I am not losing my mind.  While this may be the case, I don’t have to like it!

 

As a teacher and  a communicator it is definitely a liability knowing that in the middle of any sentence I might end up stalled or go off the rails completely.  If I was more concerned with not looking silly, I suppose I would become more nervous about my job.  It made me think about Moses.  When Moses was first told by God that he would be going back to Egypt to speak with Pharaoh on behalf of his people he was worried that people wouldn’t listen to him or take him seriously.
But Moses pleaded with the LORD, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” (Exodus 4:10)                                         Even after God reassured him that just as he had given him a mouth, he would give him the words, Moses still asked that someone else be sent.

 

God was angry that Moses was still not trusting.  In the end he sends Aaron, 16He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him.”  Regardless of my reduced attention span, focus, and apparently vocabulary, I will continue to teach and speak publicly. I may not have the words on my tongue when I want them, but I will have them when I need them.

 

Things worked out for Moses and Aaron, not without hard work and God’s help.  One assumes that they would also have worked out if Moses had just agreed and headed off as God first asked him to.  I hope that my brain lapses will some day go away and I will return to ‘normal’ but in the meantime I’m doing alright and I know I am not alone.


thanks for the photo goes to – http://www.flickr.com/photos/blatantnews/4013906048/

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.

So…When Do I Become A Grown-Up?


 

A good friend of mine teaches Sociology in our high school.  One of the projects her students do is called “Who Am I?”  This is intended to take them beyond their looking-glass selves, past what they think other people see in them, to their real selves.  The projects are quite amazing and I always think that I have no idea how I would answer the question myself.  Today, while sifting through my “junk drawer” in my desk, I ran across a note which I wrote while at a seminar on stress.  The title?  Who Am I?

 

I think that what I answered that day is pretty accurate.  The part I want to talk about today is, “I don’t really feel like a grown up most of the time, even though I have three kids who are growing up.”  If I don’t feel like a grown up at forty-six years of age, when will I?

Have you heard the song “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan?

PETER PAN:
Are you ready for today’s lesson?

ALL:
Yes, Peter!

PETER PAN:
Listen to your teacher. Repeat after me:
I won’t grow up,
(I won’t grow up)
I don’t want to go to school.
(I don’t want to go to school)
Just to learn to be a parrot,
(Just to learn to be a parrot)
And recite a silly rule.
(And recite a silly rule)
If growing up means
It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!
Not I,
Not me!
Not me!
I won’t grow up,
(I won’t grow up)
I don’t want to wear a tie.
(I don’t want to wear a tie)
And a serious expression
(And a serious expression)
In the middle of July.
(In the middle of July)
And if it means I must prepare
To shoulder burdens with a worried air,

I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me,
Not I,
Not me!
So there!
Never gonna be a man,
I won’t!
Like to see somebody try
And make me.
Anyone who wants to try
And make me turn into a man,
Catch me if you can.
I won’t grow up.
Not a penny will I pinch.
I will never grow a mustache,
Or a fraction of an inch.
‘Cause growing up is awfuller
Than all the awful things that ever were.
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up,
No sir,
Not I,
Not me,
So there!

etc.

 

Let’s look at that a bit.  “If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,” I can not remember the last time I climbed a tree but I do remember spending hours reading in the maple tree in our front yard.  Thinking about it now I can feel the gentle swaying of the branches in the breeze.  Why don’t I climb trees anymore?  I don’t think it has anything to do with dignity but possibly opportunity and the fact that I’m not at all sure my body is up to it anymore.  I have found the gentle swaying of my hammock both more accessible and equally satisfying. 

 

As for penny pinching, moustache growing and gaining height, I did reach my full height, I hope I never grow a moustache that leaves penny pinching.  It is interesting that Peter associates penny pinching with being grown up.  I wonder if he means the constant challenge of making the money we make stretch to accommodate the needs and perceived needs of our families.  This is certainly one of the big stressors in adult life and in relationships as well. 

 

Where Peter’s logic comes crashing down is when he sings, “Cause growing up is awfuller than all the awful things that ever were.”  This is the image that we tend to give kids, sometimes directly and sometimes inadvertantly.  I know some kids who have already gone through more awful things in their first eighteen years than lots of adults.  Children who are abused, abandones, bullied etc. often fall into despair from our message of, “you think you have it bad now, just wait until you are an adult.”  It is little wonder that the teen suicide rates are what they are!

 

I guess by Peter’s standards I am grown up.  I shoulder the burdens of responsibility and while I make every attempt to do it with good humour and placing my faith in God, I’m sure I often wear the worried air to which he refers.  But being a grown up is really awesome!  The freedom and opportunities open to us as adults are amazing and I would not for a second want a young person to feel they need to avoid being grown up.  At the same time, though, I still spend hours wondering what I will be when I grow up.  My career as a teacher is nearing its natural end and I think a lot about what I will do then.  In the meantime I plan to not take myself too seriously, and if a nice low branch offers itself I just may climb up a tree with my Kobo and settle in to read a bit!

 


thanks to http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/peterpan/iwontgrowup.htm for the lyrics

Dating Violence, Childbirth and Cowboy Day


What do dating violence, childbirth and cowboy day have in common?  These represent my work day today.

March break is next week and that makes this winter carnival week at my high school.  A regular part of this week every year is that we have theme days.  Today is cowboy day and many of the teachers and students are sporting plaid shirts, jeans, cowboy boots etc.  As a result of this I am sitting here during my break in my jeans, plaid shirt, cowboy boots and spurs writing my blog.

 

As for dating violence and childbirth, these are today’s topics in my two classes.  There was a time when these were topics you didn’t hear about, or which your parents were supposed to cover.  How did this sort of thing end up being on the school’s plate?

 

Dating violence is one of the adolescent issues we cover which include eating disorders, STIs, birth control, stress, depression etc.  Our ideas of what is acceptable behaviour in a relationship have changed a great deal over the past 50 years and I firmly believe that it is important to teach our kids how to be safe in their relationships.  As a former victim of emotional abuse in my past marriage I wish someone had taken the time to teach me the warning signs, because they were all there. The value of the units does not explain how they came to be part of the curriculum though.

 

Childbirth is the next stage in the child’s development after prenatal, so it is time to cover that.  The folks from the VON program Healthy Baby and Me come in to do  one class on childbirth and a second class on breastfeeding.  While we do have a couple of students who are pregnant, this is not just for them.  The sooner you know the process and stages of labor and delivery, the better prepared you will be and most students will some day become parents.  Again a good reason but not really an explanation.

 

I guess that question comes down to, “who used to be responsible for these things?”  Most of these issues would have been handled in one way or another by our families.  With many generations of families all living in close proximity you may not have been warned about dating violence but you had a whole network of people in the community watching out for you.  Girls were warned to stay away from the “wild” boys, those with temper problems etc and in smaller communities it would be rare to be dating someone about whom nothing was known.  This doesn’t mean that there were fewer relationship problems, but parents were more aware of where their kids were, whom they were with, and what they were doing.  Social expectation for dating were very different at the time as well.  Of course some people had sex when in high school, but with poor birth control methods it was much more risky than it is now.

 

Similarly, when you had your children you used to have your mother, aunts, grandmother to help you out and offer advice.  Families are so geographically dispersed now that this is not viable.  What we see on TV shows about childbirth tend to focus on the problems that may happen and are unlikely to make people feel confident in their body’s ability to give birth which we do get from the fact that our female relations survived.  Similarly, it is pretty hard for a grandmother to help sooth your baby through a Skype connection.  For basic information exchange the world has become much smaller through technology, but this is not a benefit for real human relationships and the comfort of touch.

And so we come to my work-day today where I dressed differently, talked about avoiding abuse, and delivering babies!

Treat One Another Justly: But That Doesn’t Mean Everybody Right?


Getting Active For The Climate

Zechariah 7:10 “God-of-the-Angel Armies said then and says now: ‘Treat one another justly.  Love your neighbors.  Be compassionate with each other.  Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.  Don’t plot and scheme against one another – that’s evil.'”

The Canadian House of Commons recently passed third reading of bill C-389 which is a bill to close loopholes in the human rights act which currently still allow people to fire people or refuse to rent apartments to people on the grounds of their being transgendered or transsexual.  On the face of this it is a great move in the direction of treating each other with justice and being compassionate with each other.  Unfortunately this bill will now head off to the Senate where it seems almost certain to fail.

When God said to treat each other justly and with compassion did he mean justice for everyone?  Maybe he just meant for people like us (insert your own definition of us here), justice only for women, justice only for men, justice for only straight people, monogamous people, for our on race, religion etc.  Surely we aren’t supposed to work for justice for criminals!

Have you ever noticed how many figures in the Bible spent time in jail.  Jails are for criminals right?  For truly bad people.  The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of time in one jail or another and from there he wrote some of the letters that have become scripture. 

Jesus had compassion on all the lowest characters in his society.  The religious leaders of the day were horrified to see him with lepers, tax collectors, and women of ill repute.  At the very end, on the cross, he was assuring the convict who was hanging beside him, an admitted felon, of his place with him in heaven.

My class were discussing the passage of the bill today and the fact that all of the MPs from our area voted against it passing.  They asked me how anyone could vote against something as basic as not being discriminated against.  I had no answer for them, but it gave me hope that they were asking at all.  I think that our kids these days are more tapped into their sense of justice and compassion than we realize.  I am certainly not saying that all kids are perfect.  There is still a lot of bullying going on in our schools and work places.  But it does give me hope that we are moving in the right direction.