Gratitude in All Things

Friday, August 24, 2018

Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Sometimes life just gets hard. The week before school started, my son had heart surgery, my mom that just moved in with us was diagnosed with cancer, and my father-in-law became so ill my husband had to fly out to Oregon to be with his family. Yet within all of this, I had peace. God is in control.

God calls us to have a grateful heart. One year I was blessed to be able to visit a school in a poverty stricken portion of Ethiopia. The teachers had a classroom stuffed with 80 students. The room was equipped with four clay walls and benches. That's all. Oh - and one very small chalkboard with simple paper for classroom information. Many students walk 2 1/2 hours to get to school (one way) and they carry their prized possession...if they are lucky to have one...a textbook. (See pictures above) The joy that exuded from the classroom was clear. Students were filled to the brim with gratitude. They were so thankful to be able to receive an education. The classroom often pushed the limits of 80 students so others would stand outside, all day, and peer in through the window just to be able to hear the teacher and take part in learning. I remember the culture shock returning to our American school - a school full of every thing imaginable as far as educational supplies - yet lacking in gratitude.

"Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the JOY of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness." Billy Graham

Whenever life gets hard, or whenever I am feeling upset or concerned, I count my blessings. Sometimes it's as simple as, "Thank you for this comfy chair I am sitting in. Thank you that my dogs greet me each night. Thank you for glasses." I literally start thinking of absolutely everything I can be thankful for. I pray. I give my burdens to the Lord for HIM to carry. He fills me with His peace. Joy returns.

This little girls walks 2 hours and 30 minutes each WAY and each day just to get to school. She LOVES her textbook!

A simple classroom.

First Week!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ready. Set. Go!

Our school year is about ready and we will soon be off and running!  I am super excited for this year. I've done a lot trying to get the year off to a great start. We started with redecorating my office and the teacher conference room:

Our theme is "Rooted to be Fruited" -- helping students be rooted in God's word in order to have the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Kids will get fruit to put up on our fruit stand when they demonstrate the fruits of the Holy Spirit and are recognized by a teacher or staff!

Teachers created this bulletin board with darling pineapple faces. We painted them at our staff retreat up at Diamond Arrow.

I'm getting ready by reading Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess. I love all the PIRATE books and have read many! The books truly helped me transform as a teacher. From their website: "In Lead Like a PIRATEeducation leaders Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf map out the character traits necessary to captain a school or district. You’ll learn where to find the treasure that’s already in your classrooms and schools—and how to bring out the very best in your educators. This book will equip and encourage you to be relentless in your quest to make school amazing for your students, staff, parents, and communities." It is my hope that Victory Christian be continue to be the most amazing school for students, staff, and families! 

On a personal level, as much as I am loving getting ready for the year, I am being bombarded on all sides.  New school. New job. Mom just moved in with us. Mom has cancer. Son just had heart surgery. Husband flew out to be with ill dad. It's been quite a week. 
One thing is sure:
HE rocks - because HE is awesome. And...HE is my rock and fortress when times get crazy. I was able to participate in a book launch at just the right time...

If you are a working mom...or just a really busy person like me...this book is a must! I battle to do ALL things well. At the end of the day, I am often stretched too thin. Some of it is my own fault...I take on too much. Some of it is because of my perfectionistic tendencies. Jessica Turner helps you establish clear work boundaries, become more efficient and less stressed, and how to prioritize self-care. 

Okay. I'm off to some self-care right now! I'm choosing to relax on my front porch swing and read. ahhh.....


Education Adventure

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Education is an adventure.

That's probably why I am an educator. I've loved school as long a I can remember. I've always been curious and I love learning new things. Reflection is important to me - I'm constantly wondering how I could have done something better. I'm my own harshest critic.

This year I am stepping into a new role and it has caused me to reflect on how I have changed as an educator through the years. 

When I first started teaching, I was one of those teachers. I thought I couldn't smile until after Christmas or I might lose control of my class. If a paper didn't have a name on it, I threw it away. No name, no grade. My classroom management was strict and I must say a bit harsh. It's all I knew. 

When I had my own kids (about 3 years after my start of my career), I loosened up a bit. I realized that I needed to show my students how much I loved and respected them. This helped. A lot. I no longer tossed out papers without names - I didn't want someone doing that to my child. Having kids helped me see my job from a parent's point of view.

I constantly research new techniques and have tried many of them. I use to flip cards, write names on the board, or use a clip chart. As a college professor, I learned about many new techniques that were much more positive and student centered. 

A few years ago I took a job in a public school where I was able to use many of these newer classroom management techniques. Oh, how I wish I had used these years before! I built my classroom around relationship - classroom community, shared vision, social contracts, student choice, flexible seating, and positive teacher talk. Instead of me giving the rules, we created a social contract as a class together. I gave students their own seating options and found that instead of losing control of the room, there was more management and learning than before. Students rose to the occasion and were respectful, responsible, curious, eager to learn. I read books such as Teach Like a Pirate and even did something I thought I would never do - I gave the room to the students. They taught, managed, prepared, was our student lead day. It was amazing. It was fun seeing my job from a student's point of view. 

I know that life constantly changes. I strive to keep learning and growing.