Friday, January 20, 2012

It's not you, it's me...REALLY!

The math instructional coach told me yesterday that January to March is the "doldrums" of the school year. I can definitely see that playing out so far this year. The kids are a little crazy and a lot lacking in motivation! I've been a little down this week because I'm not feeling like a very effective teacher, so I went to talk to my instructional coach about what I can do to feel like the kids are learning something.

One of my biggest concerns is my ELT class. ELT (extended learning time) is my group of students that are either very low or right on the bubble of passing. I have them during ELT and during their regular class. We use ELT to preview material and give extra practice/help on the more challenging subjects.

Lately, I've been collecting their work every day and noticed that maybe 5 out of the 22 or so students in that class are actually trying to complete their classwork. I'm starting to feel like not putting any effort forth in that class because I'm not getting any effort from them. I even told them the other day that I feel like a middle school girl who has a crush on a guy who doesn't like her back (hey, I thought it'd help them relate to how I'm feeling)! I was trying to figure out what to do about the kids who weren't doing anything.

Then, I thought about it: what am I planning for them each day? Is it interesting? Is it helpful? Is it too close to what we are doing in class? I realized that maybe the issues are coming from the fact that I'm having them do the same thing every single day. And after seeing my twice a day, and one of those classes being a worksheet/bookwork every time, I'm sure they get really bored!! I probably wouldn't want to try either if I knew I would have to do another 20 problems of the same thing the next day.

Sometimes the whole "it's not you, it's me" phrase really is true (though not necessarily in breakups...but that's another topic). I feel like I have done something to make this class so boring/seemingly worthless for the kids that they aren't taking advantage of having another opportunity to learn math in a day. I'm so glad I realized that now so that I can fix it and make the next 4 or so months worthwhile!

So, next time you're wondering why a situation is so bad/wrong/pointless, think this to yourself: "What have I done to make the situation this way?" And, most importantly, "What (that I have control over) can I change to improve it?" I'm not trying to say that you should take fault or blame for every single situation, but I feel so relieved and liberated right now thinking that there may be something that I can change to help make this situation better! I hope this may help someone else feel better about something causing them stress :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Giving by Faith

"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith."
Hebrews 11:1-2 (NLT)

I went to Tifton, GA to spend the weekend with Joe and his grandparents. Let me just say, they are some of the most precious old people in the world! The epitome of Southern Belle and cute old man, I enjoyed spending time getting to know his grandparents better. We went to church with them on Sunday, and the preacher spoke about living by faith.

I later found out this sermon was pretty much a stewardship campaign since they voted not to have one this year. But, he talked about a woman in one of his old churches who exemplified living by faith. She was 82 years old, lived in a tenant house on the farm she grew up on, and supported herself with the Social Security checks mailed to her periodically. This didn't stop her from giving of her money to the church.

The church was trying to raise money for a building project after the original money saved up was lost when the construction company went under. This woman was a part of the prayer group to raise the money, and the group decided they would make one big push on a Sunday morning for everyone to give as much as possible for the building campaign. The offering plates were passed around during the service, and afterward, the woman walked up to the preacher and handed him an envelope. He said it felt like there was a dollar bill or two in there with some coins, which he knew was all that she could give. He tried to hand the envelope back, but the woman said she had been praying and this is what God told her to give.

The preacher went home and opened the envelope. The woman had given $3.16 in two bills and a variety of coins. He went to her house and again asked her to take the money back because she'd already provided so much for the building campaign. She again said that that's what God told her to give, so she was giving it and wouldn't take it back.

That night, the church had a smaller worship service. The preacher spread the coins and bills out on the altar and told the story of this woman's gift (with her permission, of course). A man in the congregation stood up and said, "I'll give you $10 for one of the pennies." He wanted a reminder of someone's incredible faith. Another man stood up and made the same offering. All of the pennies sold for $10. Then, someone else stood up and said "I'll give you $50 for one of the nickels." This continued until all the nickels were gone. People offered $100 for the dimes. People then offered $250 for the quarters. This woman's small gift turned in to the biggest donation toward the building campaign.

I was very convicted by this story. I make enough money to support myself. Heck, I make enough money to go shopping whenever I want to. I have enough money to pay for gifts for my bridesmaids and plan a wedding. And yet, I freak out when I see my credit card bill after this frivolous spending. This doesn't include any sort of giving to the church. I do support 3 kids through Compassion International, but I don't give of my money as God has called me to. I don't give proportional to the blessings I have received. This is something I'm going to need to pray on in order to trust God and give by faith.