Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Day

I woke up at 5:00 this morning. I was so excited. Today was the first day of school.

I wore a new tie today. A tie featuring cartoon characters. It was a gift from my son’s K4 class last year when I went in and read to the class. Blueberries for Sal. A great book for children.

I do not think that anyone noticed my tie today. But it made me happy to wear it. The bright colors. And the fact that my son’s class gave it to me.

After a brief meeting with all of the students in the auditorium, we met in our homerooms – I have the 9th and 10th graders, then resumed a regular schedule.

In all, I met with four of my six academic classes: physical science, chemistry, Bible, and life science. Junior high social studies (Pennsylvania history and geography of the western hemisphere) and biology will meet tomorrow.

My classes range in size from ten in biology to 35 in junior high social studies.

Each class period today consisted of arranging the students according to my seating plan, distributing and explaining the 1st quarter syllabus, distributing and surveying the textbooks.

I assigned homework in a few of my classes. After school, I discovered that I was probably the only teacher that gave homework – at least, that is what my daughter said. I am feeling a bit guilty. Not really.

I just got off the phone with a good friend from Georgia. We taught together for six years. We were the middle school science department. Ours is one of those rare friendships that perseveres through time and distance.

We were discussing the fact that I had six preps and he has only one – he teaches four periods of physical science. While my schedule provides for great variety each day, his requires much less preparation time. Both schedules have their benefits and liabilities.

One day has passed. 179 remain in this school year. I am determined to make the most of each day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A New Perspective for A New School Year

Note: This entry is adapted from a post that appeared on my other blog, The Hokey Pokey Place. I thought it would be fitting as a first entry for this blog.

In an hour, we will be going to my office at the church/school so that I can catch up on some paperwork, do some planning for school, etc.

In two weeks from yesterday, my classroom will be filled with students eager to learn/hear my corny jokes/go to lunch/get to soccer practice/go home/get through the day without being embarassed. And I cannot wait! Well, I can. But I am really looking forward to being back with my students.

I have worked all summer to get prepared for the new school year. Despite all the planning, there is still this crunch time in the two weeks leading up the beginning of classes.

Perhaps it is the enormity of the task ahead. The grandeur of the task to which we have been called. [Teaching is a profession to which one must be called. You do not necessarily choose this life. It is chosen for you.] It is difficult to plan, control, and contain. But we try.

There is an incredible excitement about the new school year. [I pity the teacher that does not have that excitement. Perhaps, for her, it is time to move on.] There is a freshness. It is a new beginning. A new opportunity to influence lives for eternity.

By God's grace I am not the same person I was a year ago. Because of my experiences over the past year (cancer diagnosis, ongoing treatment and testing, being away from the classroom for six months), I have a new perspective on life and teaching.

I have always been intrigued by perspective. Ways of looking at things. Artistically. Anthropologically. We all have different ways of looking at things. Often we can look at the same series of events and arrive at very different interpretations and conclusions. It is based on what we have learned. Our personality. Our values. Our experiences.

Ultimately, all perspectives relate back to our view of God. Is God real? Is He really sovereign? Does He care about me? Where is God when I am hurting? All good questions that must be answered.

I am starting the year with a renewed perspective. I am not completely sure what that perspective is, but one cannot go through what we have gone through in the past nine months without a change in perspective. At least, I do not think it would be possible.

I think my renewed perspective is consistent with Deuteronomy 6. Teaching children to love God and to love His Word. Teaching by example. Teaching out of an overflow of God's grace. Teaching through pain and loss. Through uncertainty. Through doubts. Teaching out of a relationship of mutual respect and trust. Teaching children how to apply truth in the everyday activities of life. Taking advantage of teachable moments.

Being sensitive to God's timing. Stopping. Observing. Listening. Where is she? Where is he? What does she need in this moment to draw her nearer to Christ? Who is that boy in the third row? He is a child of God. He is of infinite worth and purpose. His creation. Created for His glory. Redeemed for His glory. Or in need of redemption. By the blood of Jesus Christ. The same blood that was shed for me.

I tend to think that I have less than two weeks to get my perspective straight. In reality, our perspective continually evolves over a lifetime as we grow closer to God. As we gain the mind of Christ. As we grow in our love and knowledge of Him. As we continue to experience the trials and challenges that God uses to shape us into who we were made to be.

My perspective will become very apparent to my students as we encounter life together in the classroom and in our community. God will use me to shape their perspectives. For better or for worse.

Perspective is not just something. It is everything.