Sunday, May 31, 2009


Zac and I went camping at Gooseberry Falls this weekend; we had a great time taking pictures, cooking food over the fire, reminiscing about the past and dreaming about the future.

Our proudest moments from the weekend were using good teamwork to set up the tent in the dark, and biking from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock Lighthouse!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Hope This Doesn't Suck

Recently I was hanging out with two friends of mine, Sarah and Sam. They shared that when one of them prepares a new dish for a meal, they set it on the table and say, "I hope this doesn't suck."

I feel like I say this every morning when I get up in front of a classroom. "I hope this doesn't suck," or more specifically, "I hope that I don't suck."

Today I was a third grade teacher. It started off as a challenging day with a difficult class and last-minute lesson plans, but we staggered along together and made it through. At various points during the day, a teacher or helper in my class would tell me "You're doing a good job" or "What you said there was perfect." I felt encouraged.

To top things off, as I was leaving the building and saying goodbye to some of the teachers that worked with me throughout the day, one of them asked if I had a job for next Tuesday. I didn't, and so she booked me.

I guess that must mean that I don't suck.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So Much

I feel I have so much to say lately; it's as if my mind's been opened up and all the thoughts that have been stuck inside for so long, lingering unnoticed, are spilling out. If I took the time to let these fingers fly, you'd be reading the first paragraph of a novel.

I suppose this energy could be attributed in part to the medium Caribou Cooler cup that sits empty beside me, but I like to think it's genuine inspiration.

I'm learning heaps lately in my down time. I'm realizing how important it is for me to have time to process life and faith. An excerpt from "Messy Spirituality" rang true for me today. It reads:
Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down. If we want to meet Jesus, we can't do it on the run. If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area, and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest stop.
Lately I've been running at a breakneck pace, screaming, "Come on, Jesus, give me a sign! Speak to me!" but I can't hear him; all I hear is the wind whistling through my ears as I go faster and faster.

I slowed down today. I found myself sitting in a waiting room for over an hour, with nothing but a small book to read. I liked it. I'm not sure I could say I would have read had I not had that as my only option; and what's more, what I read seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear.

Afterward, I couldn't find the Caribou Coffee shop that I wanted to, and as a result found myself waiting at a long stoplight next to a homeless man. I remembered that sometimes the homeless feel unnoticed because everyone tries to avoid eye contact with them, fearing they will get asked for money. How many people have felt invisible because I've looked away all my life? I didn't have anything to give; no cash on hand, no food in the car. I didn't want to make eye contact without anything to give. Then I remembered an old pack of gum my sister gave to me. I said out my window, "Hey, do you want some gum?" He smiled and gladly accepted. He said when you're on the streets, it's hard to have good breath. I rummaged in my purse and presented him with a whole pack. I'm glad I had the time. I'm glad I had the gum to give.

I'm thankful for that moment.

I hope to take the rest of today slowly. It's a day off , so I have some down time to be and think. Here's hoping you find some down time to think today too. It will be well worth it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Admittedly, Not a Good Day

I knew bad days would come with substitute teaching, but after so many good ones, I started to think that maybe I'd get by without any bad ones. Enter Monday.

All was set for the day to go well; the morning was warm and sunny, I was back at a familiar school, I was teaching a class and students I had taught before, and I reclaimed my lost Nalgene that very morning from the Elementary school next door. Life seemed pretty good.

It was a work day for the class, which I'm finding is what teachers assign 99.9% of the time when there's a sub. The class started out working - for the most part - which is great for this particular group. Well, halfway through the class a student decided they needed to see the counselor. After telling me what they were going to do (and not asking), they were gone. NOT OKAY! Then, another student asked to leave the room. After telling that student no, they left too! EVEN MORE NOT OKAY! I called the office and the Dean of Students tracked down my two missing sheep and had a nice talk with them. I was really appalled at their lack of respect. I mean, I know it's May, but really?!?

It poses the question for me, "When I'm a parent, how do I teach my children to respect authority?" And the funny thing is, I'm not even a mean authority figure! I've done my best to show students respect, and to show interest in the things they are doing in life. I've gone out of my way to talk with students, to help them, and to let them know that they are cared about. I felt hurt today that the respect I show the students was not reciprocated.

But I need to remember that they are just high schoolers. Life has a lot to teach them yet. They're learning, and for two of my students today was a life learning experience. I learned too.

I'm comforted by a quote I read on a teacher's desk last week from Emerson:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
I also don't think it's a coincidence that an excerpt from "Messy Spirituality" that I read this morning before school started said this:
We don't grow by studying the definition of consistency; we grow when we try to be consistent in an inconsistent world. We can talk about love all we want, but loving those who are unlovely is how we learn about love. Jesus gave Peter some excellent teaching about betrayal and arrogance, but Peter didn't understand what Jesus was talking about until he actually betrayed Jesus. Peter's failure was the primary cause of his understanding and maturity.
So, I learned today. I learned about disrespect, which makes me appreciate respect. I learned that to care for students means you'll get hurt sometimes; that doesn't mean you shouldn't stop caring about them. I learned what is acceptable for me to tolerate and what is not. I learned how comforting it is to have an evening with your friends planned when you go through a hard day. :)

p.s. They're both suspended.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"If I Run Too Much, I'll Die" and other classroom adventures

I've been subbing for 2 weeks now and have really been enjoying it. Each day brings new adventures, new faces, and new places. It's sometimes nervewracking to go up in front of a classroom of students I've never met before and request their respect, but I manage okay and I have had a good experience every day. A few funny things have happened along the way, the most recent one being a quote I heard today in my gym class. Yes, you read that right, I was a Gym teacher this morning for some 1st graders!

One girl was sitting out and I went up to ask her why. She said she wasn't supposed to run a lot. I asked her if she had asthma, and she said "No, my mom just says that if I run too much, I'll probably die." How can I argue with that? Needless to say, I let her sit out.

Last week a 9th grader asked me how long I had been subbing. I didn't want to tell him "3 days" because I thought that would only give him reason to give me a hard time. I said, as any good person dodging a question would, "Why do you want to know?" He replied with "Well, you just smile so much and you're so happy. It seems like you haven't been doing this very long."

Just thinking about that again I have to laugh out loud! Please stop me before I get so grumpy that people think I've been subbing for years!

I've had a few moments where I've felt like I've really connected with a student or some students. Yesterday I helped a little guy find the right bus, Monday I was able to encourage a few high schoolers to pursue their dreams, Last Wednesday I helped a student see a situation from another point of view, and today I encouraged students in a way that made them hold their heads higher with pride. That's pretty cool. So far, very good!

I didn't tell you the best thing yet...I got my very own whistle. I think this means I've reached teacher stardom. Here's a picture, just so you can see that it's the real deal.


New updates on the cards! Since my last post, I've printed up my first batch of cards! I have 5 different cards, and I printed between 50-100 of each. I attended my first craft sale in Robbinsdale, a nearby town, on a cold and windy Saturday. Zac sat with me all morning and we talked with people and sold some cards. I was so happy to have a few friends stop by, and also to have a friend of ours at her own table, just two down from us. What an unexpected, lovely surprise! It's been a fun journey. Next project: website.