Monday, April 25, 2016

Tales from the Classroom - Seniorits

Most years, I teach a class of high school seniors.  Some times not, depending on enrollment and such.

Every year, at varying times, we have to deal with the annual outbreak of "senioritis."  "Itis" - inflammation.  So "senioritis" = inflammation of the senior.  I get to play tough teacher, reality breaker, and at times mom.

They always ask, "Why are we stiiiiilllllllllllll heeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeee?", thinking that close enough is good enough to be graduated and gone.  Well I'm teaching a dual enrollment class, so they have to stick with me until their final exam.

Some day they will learn the realities of having a job:  you do it until it is over on the last day.  There is no just showing up.There is responsibility and accountability and tasks that must be completed.  But for these high school seniors, finishing the job will mean saying goodbye to their friends, teachers, and school.  Some have never attended a different school - so this will be leaving home.

Some students I know I will never see again.  Some I really hope to see again.  I hope they take the lessons shared with them in their hearts and move out into that big world.  Some will bloom where they are planted while some will still be looking for that fertile land in which to be planted.  I know they are ready for change and the excitement their next steps will bring them, but I hope they aren't finished learning.

I hope to never be finished learning.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tales from the Classroom - episode 2

This is a more current story.

I've got a student who has a little math anxiety.  Actually I have several students with a little math anxiety.  Sometimes they express it as hate... sometimes they decide in advance to accept defeat and just don't try.  Their problem is their teacher (me) has high expectations of all her students and I do not accept the lack of trying.

I believe all students, at some level, can succeed at something that is hard.  We all can't be good at the same thing - how boring would our world be?  I feel part of my job is to hold their hands a little bit and, at the right time, let go and let them fly solo.  The first time they do something independently is something wonderful to witness.

So one student with this anxiety has decided to trust me with her feelings.  She knows I don't judge if she tries hard. And she does try very hard and mostly, pretty successfully.

The thing that frustrates me are the students who do not take advantage of offered help in a timely manner, preferring to wait until right before the test.  Many times they will stare blankly and doodle on their notesheets, not filling them out, and then consequently not understanding the content.  Then they are the students who complain about homework when half of it could have been completed before they left school.

I am fortunate.  I love my students.  I love my job.  I feel so blessed to work in a place that puts faith in Jesus above all else, where I can openly share my faith with my students.  So, when I have to be tough with them, and I am, they know it is in love and with the hope they will choose to learn something that may challenge.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tales from the Classroom

Today I was inspired to write a series for this blog - Tales from the Classroom.
I teach in a Christian school, but I teach teenagers so it doesn't really matter the setting, except I am allowed to read Scriptures and pray with my students.  I get to blatantly, lavishly show the love of Christ to these students.  It is a privilege, truly, to share their joys and tragedies, anger and joy, even the pranks and silliness.  July will begin my 10th year back in a classroom.

Here's my first story.  My first year I only taught seniors.  They were a rough class as a group, kind of like walking on broken glass.  But there were some that took my heart, made me cringe, and made me laugh out loud on a regular basis.

I saw some students who dealt with clinical depression and they would break down in the classroom.  It doesn't matter what it was.  A test.  A bad morning at home.  It was raining.  And truly it didn't matter - except that they let me help them.  Sometimes I just sent them to the office to call home.  Sometimes I went with them into the hallway and let them cry on me.  Always it broke my heart and sometimes I still wonder about those kids.  It just proved to me all the more that we do not know the baggage a student walks in with, but my prayer is that they are able to leave that baggage at the door and enjoy high school.  Then there are those for whom high school is their baggage and being in school is truly miserable. I think I hurt for those the most.

Several of the high school couples married each other.  I'm a sucker for a high school romance since I had one.

The students I tell you about do have names.  I know them but you won't.  But if you recognize yourself here, former student, know that it is with love and respect for the adult you have become.

Monday, January 11, 2016

In the thick of it

The school year has re-started.  A new semester with new beginning and even two new students.  They are both Chinese and a little bit lost, I think, but excited to be here and smile with and at me.

I'm teaching Statistics for the first time - the prep is more intense than with Algebra, mainly because I've never taught it, but I love the subject.  The thick part is I didn't get my textbooks until the day before class started - not my school's fault - or my teacher's text until several days later, so I am one day ahead of my students and now trying for two days ahead.  I'm really in the thick of it.

I'm doing 9 or 10 hours at school, coming home and working another hour - sometimes two.  Sometimes I'm cooking dinner but sometimes I'm too tired or have too much to do and we decide to eat out.  I'm in the thick of it.

But there is balance.  I'm making time for myself every day.  Sometimes it's Facebook, sometimes it's genealogy, sometimes it's cooking.  Today I cooked something new and my dear son stated, "You can make this again."  Bacon cheeseburger soup - nothing wrong with that.  Now that is thick.

So what is all this thickness?  It's meaning.  Love.  Purpose.  Caring.  Being busy with things I LOVE.  Yeah - right now there's a mixture of tired and exhausted - joy and happiness - burdened and lightness.  So much wonderful and so much so much.  So much to be thankful for.  So blessed.

It's thick, I tell ya.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It feels like quicksand

This week.  The more I fight it the harder it is to survive.  It is final exam week and the students are stressed.  The teachers are stressed.  Most will pass but a few will fail.

This season also feels like quicksand.  Before I knew it, I stepped into it and got stuck.  But it's okay because I'd like to be stuck in a season where my Lord's name is associated with a major holiday, even if it is not politically correct to say it or truly celebrate the season the way it should be.   If you don't know me, or don't know me well, I am not politically correct.  Sometimes I say exactly what I am thinking without the filter I remind my students they need to engage. Don't tell them, but sometimes it is okay to speak without a filter!

To be honest, I'm having trouble getting into the decoration this year.  Now that my son is home from college, maybe I'll feel like making it more festive.  The boxes are out - and still neatly packed.  The tree is up with lights but no decorations - and really, truly, I just like it plain with lights.  It is simple and uncluttered and soothing.

So I shall contemplate and not fight it.  Because fighting it makes it harder - like quicksand.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Another corner

The last several months have been a whirlwind.  Lots of twists and turns.  Like a roller coaster, twists and turns in life can be fun and exciting and others make you appreciate life.

Back in April a cousin reconnected with me.  I was grateful.  I had previously found his email address and tried to make a connection several years ago and then - nothing.  Email address was gone and I didn't know where to find him. So April comes and I get a facebook request - but he had already friended me a long time ago - I didn't believe it was him.

But it was.  And then we began a journey of reconnecting and loving and remembering.  He is my next oldest cousin - only 6 years my senior and we shared some great memories and he was in my wedding.  I hadn't seen him since 1989 when our grandmother died.  She was the glue of our family and when she died we all unglued from each other.  It was painful and sad to not see my cousins.  So being in contact with him was wonderful, but time was of the essence because he was in hospice care with a lung disease.  And this is the next turn.

My sweet cousin died last weekend and I had to say another good-bye.  At his service, I learned about the joyful life he lived and saw the grief and tears of his friends and caregivers.  He was loved. I saw the gray on his head.  I comforted his sister and received comfort from his brother.  I was with family and my heart was jointly full and constantly emptying - if that makes any sense.  I learned of his love for Jesus and his church.  I learned he learned to love vegetables.

Another cousin, his brother, reminded me so much of my sister that I felt a sense of longing and regret simultaneously.  I heard him sing and thought of my mother.  I saw my cousins' children who looked so much like their beautiful grandmother I had twinges of deep sadness.  Okay.  More than twinges - deep deep painful cuts because she is the relative I miss the most.

I have decided to not let this happen again.  I will not be separated from my family - even if I have to be the one to make sure we stay together.  We need each other.  We need to share laughter, tears, and memories.  We need to make more memories and get together at times other than a funeral.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

The title of this blog

Turning points.
I chose it very intentionally, thinking that someday I may change it into something more relevant to my future life.

Well, I'm at my future life and I plan to keep the blog named as it is.  Why?
I have recently entered a new phase of life - I've turned another corner.  But I think this "corner" has been more of a gentle curve.   It has taken two lifetimes, lived together.  Those lifetime are my children.

Our daughter is now married and will begin a stage of life that will encompass many changes, many more than she can possible fathom.  But, she is now grown and on her own with her husband.  "Off the payroll" as we joke around here.

Our son has begun his college career and will hopefully see God's plan for him by the time graduation happens in a little under four years (we hope).  He also is in the midst of great change and discovery and it is all very exciting.

So, it is me and Greg and the dog - again - 23 years later.  And lest you think it is the same dog, it isn't.  This is dog #3.  Like the first dog, she is blonde and quite neurotic. Not a lot of change there.
Could we pick up where we left off?  Are we missing our children?  Isn't the house quieter?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But we are doing great.  Why?  We know we raised our kids to be God-honoring.  We know they seek Him and are children after His own heart.  We are proud of them, love them, and wish them well.  Our son isn't "off the payroll" but he is a great distance away.

People are frequently trying to attribute feelings of grief to us over them being so far way.   We are not grieving - we are celebrating!  We have done the job God gave us and now we move on.  We turn the corner and look with great anticipation for more exciting corners to turn.

Turning points.  You bet it still applies.