Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grand Theft Whiteboard

OK, it's safe to come out now. An education-related post!

So I walked into class on Monday morning intending to have the usual lesson where I use my whiteboard like any other teacher. First period went fine, and at the end of the class three gentlemen from Maintenance came to me. We had met on Friday about rearranging my classroom in preparation for my Promethean board, and I told them to drop by on Monday so we could finalize what went where. I told them what I wanted and they said that they would take care of it. I then went to teaming. The result?

What's missing in this picture?

Yes, they removed my whiteboard. And that was it. The classroom was a disaster area when I came back to boot. Being one that relies on my classroom having everything in its normal position in order to function normally, this threw me into a tailspin. I only had a small whiteboard on another wall, but it was full of information that I already use every day. Since our team meeting ended late, I walked in just before the bell, and I was frantically trying to figure out a contingency no teacher ever thinks about, never mind deliberately plan for. As I was thinking up a Plan B, our wonderful consultant walks in. I almost plead with him to come and see me until after I have things settled down. His response? Just teach like I have normally planned.

I tried my best, but it was pretty rough because I almost began writing on the wall, which got everyone laughing. My class that hour was my honors class, so it went as well as it could. The next period was my worst class, which went very roughly for all concerned. During my planning period I received my observation report, which amusingly stated "Mr. Klein had a small matter of a whiteboard removed from his wall right before this class. Amazingly enough he coped well and best of all, managed to not write on the wall." I had my quick discussion with the consultant as I was rearranging the classroom in time for my afternoon classes. Going from a 16-foot whiteboard to a 6-foot whiteboard, even in a temporary circumstance (I guess I'm getting my Promethean board installed within the next three weeks), is a bit... awkward. When the projector is running, the entire white space is covered by the screen. Fun.

Downsizing, if you will

And in case you're wondering about the road sign, on a road trip a couple of weekends ago, I found a street that had the same name as our school. I looked around to see that the sign was actually pointing to no road at all. I touched it and it fell off the post. Sad that a poor forlorn sign was receiving no love, I gave it a new home.

 You are Here. Literally.

Yes, there are five bullet holes in the sign. The best part? On the opposite side the sign reads "B. E. BOUDRAEX LN" Yes, the St. Mary Parish Police Jury can't even spell the name correctly on both sides of the sign. Rather fitting I must say.

Until next time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spinning 'Round like a Record

I must say out of all of the weeks in my life, this past week has provided more wild swings in feelings in such a short amount of time than I've ever experienced. Has those swings been positive? Absolutely not. In many ways I wish I would never, ever (Ever!) experience the feelings I felt ever again. Having said that, the changes that have occurred as a result of this week have been equally as startling, and unlike my feelings I don't mind experiencing these changes.

As posts this week showed, I really went through a really rough patch that really had me doing some dumb things--especially doubting God. Do I wish I could take them back? Pretty much, but for the first time in my life I actually let myself get upset, and I was surprised by the speed in which I got over a lot of the situation. The last time I had such a bad thing happen to me, I kept everything internalized and spent a good two months in silent agony because I let no one know how much I hurt. So in the end I count it as a net positive, though in hindsight, if I'm ever in that situation again (I sure hope it never happens again!), God's going to have to help me not have such deep troughs.

The most astounding thing in all of this is the changes that's been happening in me. Yesterday at school I was talking to a teacher about what I've been going through, and she commented how much I've changed in this school year, and especially in the past two weeks. I was stunned when she said she noticed that something about me changed from last Friday to talking to me on Monday to talking to me on Thursday--and they were all for the better. I told her I felt the same way, because looking back on the past week I find that I've had several major changes in how I view the world around me and how I even think about a lot things. Even now, I'm in a really weird spot in that I know what's happened to me, but I just don't have the verbiage to express what's happened quite the way that I'd like. I find it frustrating that, in several areas of my life, I have a lot of problems in how to exactly articulate what I think and what I'm feeling about situations, which is probably a reason why I'm having to deal with this situation, as looking back I expressed how I felt about  being in a couple of situations, and what I said really and truthfully had little to do with how I actually felt, and made me sound quite dumb.

I was a bit perturbed with myself as I was telling my friend this, because it seems that this affliction is especially hurting other areas of my life, but I kind of feel helpless because I don't know how to fix it. My friend just laughed and said something very insightful: maybe I'm not the problem. I've been the same sheltered and reserved person for so long that the world around me is only used to dealing with me in that fashion. However, with all of these changes, especially in such a rapid and fundamental fashion, the world is having to deal with a completely different me that it just doesn't know what to do. When I asked her about how the people who's met me recently might react, she told me to just be patient, because all they're seeing at the moment is someone who's figuring out how to wear a pretty new personality and mindset, and it won't take long for them to realize who the real me is: not the one that curls his lips because he said something that didn't sound right even to him, and then spends the next half hour articulating what he exactly meant. I can't wait for the day I don't have to do that, if for no other reason than I can finally waste my time blathering about other things that I actually like talking about, like German Battlecruisers.

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review- Hear no Evil by Matthew Paul Turner

Back in December, I decided I had had enough with my life and decided to stop being married to my job and attempt to have a life. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Do I have a life? Well... Am I a different person from when I started this? Absolutely. The reason? Well, there's a lot of reasons, but a big inspiration has been Christian author and humorist Matthew Paul Turner. I virtually never read Christian books because, like most "Christian" things, they're rather pants.

Turner's memoir of growing up entitled churched is about the opposite of pants one can get. It's quirky, funny, and above all, really opened my eyes to the fact that I'm not the only person on earth who feels like they don't quite fit in in evangelical churches. My beef has never been doctrinal in nature, but rather the culture. It feels a bit oppressive at times as well as anti-intellectual. Being a bit of a free-thinker and, well, well-read, it provides plenty of abrasive moments. Unlike Turner, I didn't leave my church, but I am a lot more free in both my theology and my outlook on life than I was before.

Enter Hear No Evil. Turner worked for the popular magazine CCM as editor for several years, so came in contact with a lot of Christian Music makers and saw the industry on the inside. As Turner points out Christian Music is chock-full of people trying to become famous whilst the whole time telling us they don't want to be famous. As he points out near the end of the book, if they're not telling us they're not out to be famous, they're telling us they're virgins or were virgins until they were married.

Like how I saw my upbringing come to life in a lot of ways in churched, Turner does the same with his relationship with music growing up. Unlike Turner, I never sang in church (Allegedly I sound like Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, but I don't believe that for a minute), wanted to win Star Search, or bought an Amy Grant cassette five times. I did learn how to operate a sound board in high school, and only owned a single cassette tape growing up: Weezer's Blue Album, which, considering our similar upbringings, was the far greater sin, especially since I never got rid of it and hung on for it in secret for eight years. Turner used his love of music to go to Belmont University in Nashville to get a degree in Music Business, only to return home and do nothing until he got his break at a coffee shop. From there he ended up back in Nashville, where he currently lives and writes.

If there is a flaw to this eminently funny book is that it's a little light on plot. If you've read churched, you already know he grew up in a restrictive if not outright oppressive household and church, and you know he ends up escaping it for a life of freedom in Christ. Here you get a glimpse of his days in Nashville at Belmont (The chapter "Bubble Boy" could have been written by me and only differed in minute details and the timeframe) and even a chapter on his days at CCM, but there's the feeling that there's plenty more material that would be equally funny that would make the same impact as the rest of the book's material, as well as driving the point home that Christian music is full of people--both good and bad, as well as doing a better job of explaining his spiritual journey to where he is now.

On a personal note, this flaw is more than compensated by his chapter "Wannabe." After graduating from Belmont, he moved back home to Maryland with the intention of only staying until he could get on with his life. That turned into a long ordeal that ended up with him at Jammin' Java where he finally got his break into music. On his way back to Virginia, he struggled with the fact that he felt like he had failed. He then said something very profound when he said

According to the apostle Paul, half the Christian faith was pretending not to be angry and bitter about God's decisions. Hiding discontent was one thing, and I could do that; making people believe that I was thrilled beyond all reason with the crappy circumstances God had given me was much more difficult. Still, the rest of the drive I begged God to help me be content.

There's so much truth in especially how we expect people who are given a bad position in life to just leap for joy that we're in the midst of a trial. I know Paul says for us to count it all joy, but there are times we just can't. The chapter reads so much like my own past and now present trials in tone not so much in deed, though I do admit in the past and even this past weekend doing exactly what he talked about near the end of the chapter how "all [he] seemed capable of doing was sitting around and making lists of things God had failed [him] on." It's not exactly my greatest moment, but I'm not perfect. I just hope I never do it again.

One last thing: my favourite line in the whole book? This dandy that tells more about being an evangelical than any other line could:

For a lot of Christians, their imaginations are liabilities, like the five senses and genitals. Growing up in a church that bordered on being a religious regime often stole my chances to experience God as a mystery, Ms. Lansing told us that God made people creative so we could retell his story in new ways. She said it was a part of our calling. "You'll understand it in time, " she said "Trust me. God will make it clear when he needs your imagination."

You know, if we stopped focusing on creating a homogeneous congregation and obsessing about sexual purity to the point that our kids hop in bed with each other in order to either (1) rebel or (2) find out what the fuss is all about, some folks might actually listen to what we say, because why would anyone want to join a group of people that give up our individuality and creativity to become a cookie cutter Christian, as well as feeling guilty of what you did in your past life that, to be perfectly honest, was something that Jesus would have died for just as readily for as the white lie you told your boss this morning.

Final Verdict: 4.5/5.0 stars

Buy Hear no Evil on Amazon

Until next time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why can't I Trust Him?

For my more secular readers, I apologize in advance, because probably for the foreseeable future I'll probably be posting a lot more about my life and my faith than my classroom, and that's mainly because my life and my faith is pretty much punching me in my face on a minute-by-minute basis, and my classroom is currently in a spate of mundane cruise control in that nothing dumb they say is cute or remarkable any more. So, until then I need something to blog about. I wish my life wouldn't have seen the need to supersede this.

Anyway, as I had posted last week, I was waiting for a decision that was going to change the direction of my life. When it came down the pipe, I wasn't terribly shocked because I had cynically prepared for the bad news. I prepared for the inevitable conversation to negotiate how this was going to work out. I had prepared and had a plan that was going to work because it was one of those odd compromises in that neither side would leave unhappy because both sides would get what they wanted. That lasted about fifteen minutes until it became evident that what constituted a good outcome was two very different meanings to the same word, and the only person that would be giving anything up would be me--and it would have to be on their terms if I got anything I had been asking for. In the end, it was worst case scenario time, and despite fighting an often-desperate rear guard action, I conceded defeat and slumped off the phone to look at the fiery wreck that was now my life.

A couple of phone calls to some close friends to relay the news started me on the road to recovery because they convinced me that it wasn't as bad as I thought and that there was a way to save it in the end... if I just had patience and trusted God. As the weekend rolled on the number of people I had tell me about the story of Joseph and the necessity of trusting God led me to believe that I might be onto something and the game plan I had going into this wasn't the Nutri-Grain bar I ate at the Promethean training that Thursday afternoon at the Central Office, but rather I really did hear from God.

Going into Sunday morning at church, I was feeling a little better, even though even General Superintendent George O. Wood was even telling me to trust God from his customary spot in the Pentecostal Evangel. The sermon was boring and I quickly lost interest, leading me to do some tweeting, Facebooking, and even e-mailing my parents during the sermon. However, by the end of the sermon I was getting kicked in the stomach by the rabbit trail the pastor went on, reminding me blow-by-blow of the fact I'm in this situation, and the fact that I was lucky to even be in the situation because people like me don't get a lot of shots at success like I did, which made me feel even worse because it made me think that this was all my doing.

Just great. This fiery crash that I'm experiencing is all my fault. It figures.

Even as I type this, I'm in the melancholic dumps. The problems that would have been solved by a modest outcome are back worse than before, cynicism stalks me like a leopard its prey, and worst of all in all of this I can't keep my grip on the fact that I know how to get out of this and the knowledge that it's all going to end OK because I just can't trust God, no matter how hard I'm trying. As Margaret of Single and Sane pointed out in her comment on my post, I feel just like the father of the Demoniac in Mark 9 when he told Jesus how he believed, but really needed help because of his unbelief. I do believe God has what's best for me, but I can't keep a grip on that belief.

Right there lies the rub. Faith and trust have always been issues for me because I live in a world of discrete events and rational analysis, yet completely and totally believe in the spiritual and miraculous. When it comes down to brass tacks, I lean toward the latter because the rational side of me has seen and digested enough to give up trying to rationalize those things and just believe. The problem is getting down to the brass tacks, of course.

As I've stated before, I have a real problem with solving problems. I see problems, think them through, find the best solution, and execute said solution. Everyone slaps me on the back for a job well done, but now I'm in a position that I'm so good at solving problems that I'm in a situation where I'm dying to solve this problem is the best way possible, but I can't do it because (1) it involves someone not named Loren to get on board to make it really work, and (2) God is the only One who can solve this problem. Because of this tug-of-war between wanting to solve a problem and realizing that I can't solve the problem, I'm having a real problem with believing that God can do it, even though He's provided me with plenty of rational and logical information for me to place my trust in Him.

It all came to a head tonight as I was typing this, as I decided to fire up the playlist from Relient K's 2004 album Mmhmm because it was a real life ring for me when I was really feeling down and out around the time it came out. It really didn't take long until I was a blubbering wreck because the first song spat out was When I go Down, and the opening verse goes as follows:

I'll tell you flat out
it hurts so much to think of this
so from my thoughts I will exclude
this very thing that
I hate more than everything is
the way I'm powerless
to dictate my own moods

If that isn't a direct statement about my current situation, then I don't know if one could ever be created. By the end, I was reminded once again that perhaps the only way we can trust is if we're broken and smashed to the point where we have nothing left to do but trust:

When I go down
I lift my eyes up to You
I won't look very far
'cause You'll be there
with open arms
to lift me up again

I surely hope I've hit bottom. I'm ready to trust. It might not be a lot of trust, and it might not be a very strong trust, but it's all I've got, and if there's one thing my rational mind knows, God doesn't need much of anything to make things great. That's why He's in the mustard seed business.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go and compose myself (again).

Until next time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Can We all just Read Along?

Today was another crazy day at school. No fights today (I told my seventh period class that they could get their fight for the day out of the way just as class started, and half of the class jumped up. *facepalm*), but I did have a student curse me out when I told him he had to work on his assignment for the day. Ah well, can't have a day without writing an office referral.

I was reading my Twitter feed looking for some inspiration for today's post (I have a post in the works for tomorrow about my adventure this past weekend), and as usual Aaron Eyler rides to the rescue. Unlike posts which I either agree or disagree 100% with the blog post, this one has me a bit torn because I see and actually agree with both sides of the issue. In his article Reading: For School or Pleasure?, Eyler posits that it's counterproductive for students to read books for school that are inherently disconnected and disdain because of their irrelevance like your standard bog fare high school literature text. He rounds out the post by asking teachers to ensure that students read relevant and engaging works, and strangely enough, perhaps giving students a choice of what books to read for their assignments.

As a Reading teacher at a school where my critters pretty much refuse to read anything, I see the allure of the concept of just finding anything that will stick and run with that, but in my experience, the stuff my kids want to read is absolute pants. Our school does Accelerated Reading and we spend 15 minutes of every class in silent sustained reading, and most of my students don't even bother to bring in their books to read. To ensure they're reading, I grabbed a variety of discarded magazines from the library, and they all flock to Sports Illustrated and Ebony, but for some reason Business Week gets left alone. I would like to think that they're getting reading in, but considering the struggle I have in keeping them in their seats because they flip through an entire issue in a minute and attempt to get a new issue, I'm not that gullible.

As for those that bring their books to class, I guess I should be jumping for joy that a student that would otherise not read is reading the Twilight series from cover to cover, but it's Twilight for Pete's Sake! The rest of my slow students don't even read anything that reaches that level of literary sophistication. My honor students read popular young adult literature, but at least there's some quality there. I know that reading is a skill that requires practice, and the best way to practive is to practice doing something you'd enjoy, but what's the value of the practice if it isn't challenging, or is only for the purpose of practice, a single-purpose instrument that Alton Brown would hate oh-so-much.

I admit that I'm rather curmudgeonly when it comes to my concept of good literature, but my reasons are mainly because literature is a rather important method of transferring values and culture from one generation to the next. Maybe it's because it's my background in history, but I see too much value in the literature of the past for students to ignore because it's not "relevant." Yes, I hated reading Dickens when I took British Literature, but when I taught British Literature, he was the perfect vehicle to explain exactly what early Victorian life was like for the masses, and I used it liberally.

I think there's a middle ground on this issue, and I think my class may have the key to this. As I stated, I have a dedicated time each day for them to read books and magazines of their choice that gives them the practice they need through a medium that is "relevant" for them, but for the remainder of the class, I get to introduce them to literature that they in no way they would ever look at, much less appreciate. It's far too amusing to see at times the students become wrapped up in a story like O. Henry's A Retrieved Reformation where they made a connection to the character who's a criminal-gone-straight. In the end we all win; the kids read something they find interesting and I get to transfer some values from one generation to the next. At least I get to do that. Now if they only would get around to actually comprehending what they read. Ah well, one mountain at a time I guess.

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back in the Metaphysical Waiting Room

I was looking to make another education-related post today, but right now I need to vent a little bit. Just to warn any of you readers out there: if you don't like evangelicals discussing their faith, then you had better stop right here and move on, because I'm going there.

Right now I'm facing a rather important decision that will be decided in the next several days. The impact of the decision will in all likelihood change the way my life is currently heading in a fundamental way. The bad news? I really don't say in this decision. The worst part is that I've been in the exact same place before in my life on two occasions. In each case they caused a tectonic shift in my life, and unfortunately, in one case I'm just recovering from the ramifications of that event.

It doesn't help my natives are absolutely off the reservation in terms of their behaviour and performance in their class. The class I referred to in yesterday's post was quiet for the most part until shortly before the bell rang when two more students decided to fight. I managed to stop it with some help from two of my students (I really need to reward those guys, especially since they've gone from two of my biggest cut-ups to two students I can rely to complete their work in the past month.). They're already on lockdown for their general behaviour, and I'm scratching my head as to what needs to happen next.

As most of you know, I am a deeply religious person, though I tend to not dwell on it too much. Where I work, there are plenty of people who go to church regularly, but really don't act on what they hear on a daily basis. I'm not trying to act holier-than-thou, but I take my faith seriously and go out of my way to make sure the life others see me live matches what I hear in church and read and pray about on my own. Of course, it doesn't always happen that way, as I found out today in a rather amusing circumstance.

I admit I'm a horrible person when it comes to giving the circumstances of my life over to God for Him to take care of. Being someone who is ridiculously intelligent, I have a very bad habit of being able to solve problems without outside help. As is the case for people like me, God loves nothing more than pulling my hands off of the steering wheel of my life in order to make me trust Him more. I was feeling rather morose in my planning period today, and a good friend of mine was trying to cheer me up through some (well-needed) tough love. She commented how she thinks it's amazing for being such a devout person, I really have a problem with giving things to God for Him to take care of. I could only laugh ashamedly and admit it's something I'm not very good at, and is probably the reason I'm facing this situation.

It's uncanny how this situation I face is similar to what I went through at the beginning of my college career almost a decade ago. I rolled through high school with a near-perfect GPA and ACT scores, and went to a really great college for what (I thought) was my dream major. Due to winning a prestigious competition I had all of my tuition and fees covered... until during the winter break the university informed me I owed them $3100 in fees that my financial aid didn't cover. There was no way I could pay it during the break apart from bank robbery or wire fraud, so I returned to school that January only to sit out the week until my account went into default and I would be sent home. I went back because when I was in high school God showed me that He would take care of my college finances and I wouldn't need to worry about them--and to not take out any loans. I was just deluded enough to go back to school confident that God would do what he said He would do.

That week was pure Hell for me as the university got off to its normal schedule and I was stuck with nowhere to go. I tried my best to put on a brave face, but most of my time was spent on my bed crying my eyes out wanting to know why this was happening to me and gripped in terror at the fact my life was about to crash and burn in the most spectacular way possible. My parents called that Saturday and told me to be ready to come back home on Monday, so I should spend that Sunday telling my church good bye. I went to church looking like death warmed over, and in Sunday School I was the focus of the lesson as my friends and the professor that was our teacher prayed that however things went I'd end up for the better. Unbeknownst to me, as our teacher was praying, God told him quite clearly that I wasn't going home and to watch what was going to happen.

During the service I was called up to the podium and the pastor wanted to pray a prayer of blessing over me. Someone from the crowd asked how much I owed, and I sheepishly gave the total. Over the next minute the church spontaneously whipped out their chequebooks and raised an offering to keep me in school. I didn't know what to do, so I stood there dumbfounded. After church when I called my parents, they refused to believe me until the pastor called to tell them what happened. They came up the next day not to bring me home, but to make sure I was ready to go for the Spring semester. The experience changed my life because I saw that God moved in a definite way in my life in a fashion that simply couldn't be explained by normal means. Sure you could explain it away by mass empathy, but why would 50 people give $100 a piece to a person they didn't even know existed earlier that morning?

A year later, with my financial aid secure, I prepared for the Spring semester. My advisor told me in no uncertain terms that he would not allow me to proceed with my academic plan because in doing so he would be aiding someone in running away from the plan God had for them. I looked at him puzzled, and in a fit of insanity I believed him, and signed the paperwork he'd prepared to change my major from Aerospace Engineering to History. What neither of us knew was that in the deep fine print of my financial aid, in doing so voided all of my financial aid offers, and left me with a hefty bill for things the aid was supposed to pay, but now didn't have to. Once again I spent the first week of January sitting in my dorm room clinging to the hope that God would ride in to the rescue once again, because He had done it already. Though I was scared to death by the concept of leaving school, I was confident He would provide yet again. After all, I was too smart and successful to have a college career crash and burn.

The money never came.

My parents came and picked up a shell-shocked young man and packed all of his belongings into their car to bring home. To add insult to injury, the university dismissed me, but in the dismissal letter they listed my reasons for dismissal as "academic." As I would find out later, this would give me fits as I tried to get back into college. The best part was that I had attended a Christian university that constantly trumpeted the integration of faith into their culture. That made the hurt all the worse. For being ostensibly Christian, the manner of my leaving was anything but.

Once I was at home, I sought a quick way back into college to get on with my life. Instead, it began a five year journey of inexplicable spiritual drought and loneliness. From 2002 to 2007, no matter how hard I prayed, how much I read my Bible, or how many church services I went to, God did not speak to me. I had shriveled up to the point that all I could say what that I had resigned myself to the fact that it was my lot in life--which was awful Calvinist for someone who was raised and matured on Assemblies of God theology. To be honest it sucked hard and I really only got through it by sheer intertia; I was too stubborn to call it quits on my faith because I had seen and experienced too much for me to think it was all a sham. It was the worst time of my life, and every day I live I put more distance between me and that time.

Of course, by 2008 I was teaching in Franklin and this blog was up and running, so suffice it to say I got through it. What happened was that the spontaneous side of me was buried in an avalanche of cynicism and pessimism. I had ossified into someone who was intensly aware of my differences, and protected myself from others by settling into an immensely boring life. By December I had had enough with my life.

Most evangelicals would stop me right here and say the answer to my problem would be to just get closer to God or any of the other zillions of cliches they give as advice. The problem is that my relationship with God was fine--not the best around, but reading my Bible or jumping up and down during the song service wouldn't solve the problem. What I needed was a practical solution. This past December, I got it in a really odd situation where once again I made a completely irrational decision and decided to let the Loren that ran about and did all of these amazingly fun things growing up for the simple reason that he was mind-bogglingly curious out. Since then my life has made a 180-degree change for the better. It's been an exhilirating ride that I wouldn't give up for the world--and that's why I'm in the situation I'm in now.

If things don't go my way all of the ground I've gained in the last two months go up in smoke. The cynicism that I thought I had gotten rid of for good is back banging on the door--and it's getting louder and louder as the days go on. No matter how much my mentors have talked with me and told me it's going to turn out OK, and I'm just being paranoid about nothing, all I think about is that the last time I really stepped out in faith for something was when I changed my major back in late 2001... only to get kicked out of school, sent home, and plunged into soul-sucking loneliness and tedium. I've only really recovered from that recently, and I'm terrified it's all going to come back, stronger than before.

I was in one of those troughs this evening as I began this post, when iTunes coughed up a song by Hillsong United that kicked me square in the stomach. I'm not usually one for cutting edge praise and worship due to how a lot of it feels cheap and vapid, but when the chorus of Salvation is Here began, it stood out to me in a way that I desperately needed to hear:

'Cause I know my God saved the day
And I know His word never fails
And I know my God made a way for me
Salvation is here

Salvation is here
Salvation is here and He lives in me
Salvation is here
Salvation that died just to set me free
Salvation is here
Salvation is here and He lives in me
Salvation is here

I know God's saved the day for me before, and He'll do it again because He's told me on several occasions in the past week He would continue what He's started because I'm finally living the life He's created for me to live. I felt (and still do) feel so wretched because for as much as I know how God takes care of me and has an awesome plan for my life, I still have the nerve to doubt Him and think that for some reason that because His hands are on the wheel right now and not mine, we're going to crash into a fiery wreck. I really wish I would stop being like that, but maybe that'll be something He'll work on in the future. One crisis at a time though. I just wish the receptionist would call my name and get this over with--either way.

Until next time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

May I have that Pencil, Please?

Today was the aftermath of the Saints’ Bighugeginormous Game (Can’t use the real name; it’s trademarked!) victory at school, and it was rather predictable. There were absences everywhere for both the students and especially the faculty. With five teachers out, we didn’t have enough subs to fill in the gaps, so we had students on alternate schedule all over the place all day long. In several of my classes I only had enough seats for students because there were enough students absent to allow for them. It really did play havoc on my lesson plan, as I was attempting to introduce a project and get my critters into working pairs.

Seventh period, the class I currently loathe the most due to their incredible inability to keep their mouths shut and stay on task for more than about 45 seconds at a time, was really up and ready to go from the second they walked in. I couldn’t manage to reel them in no matter what I did. Adding to the fun was eight students from three different teachers on alternate schedule… with none of them having work to complete. I was plowing through the lesson as best as I could. They were split off into pairs and I was preparing to tell them about the project, when they assumed their typical state of inane chatter. Like any good teacher worth their salt, rather than yelling I just stood there silently and waited for them to be quiet since half of the room was talking.

As per Murphy’s Law, the problem kicked off on the quiet side of the classroom when two of my most quiet students are suddenly tossing desks and swinging away at each other. It was handbags at best, and I was in no mood to let it go on longer than necessary so I waded in and split them up. I set a student for help… only for them to come back empty-handed. I had them cooled down (thanks to another student) enough to sit down (One said “How about I read a magazine here?”) and I called the office. A staff member came in and took them away. The class tried to talk but I promptly ruined their day by canceling their project, instead giving them a quiz on the same material on Friday. In the debrief, I found out the reason for their fisticuffs: one student took the other’s pencil and refused to give it back as a prank. Yes, these two students willingly fought and are getting three days of in-school suspension because of a pencil. A pencil!

I have never understood the concept of physical fighting at school, or in life in general. I’m a big fan of ice hockey but I’ve never liked the concept of wanton violence that is ingrained in the sport. Perhaps it’s just because I’m a little old weakling, but the concept of getting in a fight just makes me scratch my head… and the concept of fighting over a pencil is even sillier. I guess it’s one of the things I’ll never get. Well, that, along with things like when asking an essay question about making a prediction for a story regarding a safecracker, a student tells me a story about a pimp, how students can be tardy when the class they’re going to is next door, how one can be fifteen and still be in the seventh grade, or any of the other crazy things that I see every day at school.

Not all is bad, however, as one of our teachers made it to the local newspaper in a great way. If you want to know about my man Mr. Schmidt, check out the link here.

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quick Thought--On College of Education Classes

Apparently the iPhone app that promises on-the-go blogging capabilities didn't work, as I made three blog posts this weekend... and all of them have vanished into the ether. Hmpf.

On my way to my Testing and Assessment class (A class that will receive some publicity on this blog due to its sheer entertainment and the professor teaching it--and I mean that in a good way!), I passed by the "Inquiry and Discovery-based Learning" class, only to see all of the students in neat rows studiously taking notes as the professor lectured from the front of the class.

Just sayin'.