Whether you are a teacher or not you have probably heard about the Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards are an attempt to have the same learning standards across our nation. Some of them make sense while some of them are not so sensical. The standards are upping the game, so-to- speak, for our students. As part of the Common Core process educators are encouraged to use "I can" statements to explain to the students the objective of the lesson. This is not a terrible practice but sometimes it seems silly to say "I can" personally I liked "I will" better. (But no one asked me!) As I sat in my classroom tonight I looked around at all the work that had been put into making my classroom feel comfortable and cheery and I became focused on my "I can" bulletin board. I started to think, "I can get through meet the teacher night," "I can make a difference this school year," I can continue to grow as an educator," "I can be a positive role model for students," and the list goes on and on. Either I have been entirely brainwashed by the Common Core or the practice of thinking of what "I can" do to meet an objective actually has some merit. I challenge you if you are feeling down or overwhelmed to put things into small objectives or goals and think of them as "I can." See what the Common Core can do for you!
Today's weather ran the gamut. We had sun, rain, rainbows, and beautiful sunsets. It reminded me that life can change in a moment. My experience in life has shown me that unexpected things can bring beauty and today was no exception. While the weather forecaster stated there was a chance of rain today, he did not state that there was a chance of rainbows and deep orange sunsets. There is beauty in the storm, we just need to look for it. In the middle of a raging storm it is not always easy to see the beauty that it brings. Often we are too afraid of the storm to really understand all the good that can come from it. When in the midst of a storm try to remember that, God will never leave you, nor will he forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) Absolutely nothing can change God’s ultimate purpose for your life unless you choose to disobey Him. Anchor yourself in the storm and look for its beauty. Once the storm passes you will be surprised at your increased strength, faith, purpose. And, don't forget to look for the rainbow it is the gift of hope.
Last night, we went out to dinner with friends. We had been wanting to try this restaurant for a long time and as it turned out we were finally able to go there last night. It is a German restaurant and had live entertainment. I am not shy when it comes to dancing and they played the chicken dance and asked for people to come up and do it so, you know I had to! It was so much fun! As I watched the video, I thought out loud, "can you imagine what I would be like if I had two legs?" My girlfriend responded, "do you think you'd be like this?" I had to think for a moment but my answer was, YES! I have always enjoyed life and living and am not shy of performing or speaking in public. I think that I would just look less clumsy. For your entertainment here is the video of our German Chicken Dance from last night. (Please note that I was doing this in a very high wedge!) My message for today is live life to the fullest and love what you are doing!
I am a summer baby and therefore summer is my season. While I know that according to the calendar it is still summer, to me it is over the day I step back into my classroom. The first two days of meetings are a surreal experience. Mind numbing presentations of expectations and the shift in education for the new school year. Most of the time I sit there preoccupied with my thoughts - thinking of all the great summer experiences I had and calculating the days until my next summer break. The only thing that makes this whole transition better is the promise of football. Football has to be one of my most favorite sports. I especially love high school football. My son played high school football and it pleased me so to watch him out on that field. Through his high school football career we made some amazing friends and one of our friends just so happens to be the head coach for the freshman football team. This means that I get to continue to go to the high school football games and support a great bunch of coaches and kids. So while going back to work is a difficult transition to make, football makes it that much easier. So, hooray for football season and let's go Rams!!
It has been a while since I have posted here and there is good reason. Last week my cousin had brain surgery to remove a tumor. She lives about 500 or more miles from me. I decided that I was going to go and visit her. So my mom and I got in the car and drove to see her. It was such a great trip. We were only there for a day and a couple of hours but in that time I really was reminded how great our God is. While she had hoped to be home when we got there she was in a rehab facility. We saw her a mere four days after her nine hour brain surgery and she was already making huge gains in her recovery. Her faith in God along with the skill of her surgeon, love of her husband, and love of her family are all factors in how well she is doing. I learned that there is no distance to great to travel to see a loved one and to let them know how important they are to you. I was lucky to be able to travel to see her and I am so grateful for that opportunity. There is no distance to great, no problem to big, that a little love and a lot of prayer can't fix.
Life as a teacher is a pretty good life. You have the opportunity to have summers off and you have almost every federal holiday off. Not to mention two weeks in the winter and a week off in the spring. What a life right? The life of a teacher involves so much more than that. Did you know that teachers don't get paid for that time off? Oh sure, we get paid throughout the year but our pay is based on the days that we work and it is divided in such a way that we can get a paycheck year round. During that time off we are often planning for the next round of teaching. We are worried about our students, have they eaten, are they with their mom or dad, are they being watched, are they reading, practicing math facts, just to name a few of our worries. In the summer we are busy planning the theme for our classroom, getting up-to-date on all the new changes to education. We are working on our websites, blogs, and professional portfolios. We are evaluating our teacher licenses ensuring we are still "highly qualified" and lining up professional development opportunities so that we can earn CPDUs to ensure we can renew our license when it is time. I just finished teaching summer school. I now have three days to rest before I need to go in and set-up my classroom. This usually takes the average teacher two to three days to complete (often more) so that it is ready for our students on the first day of school. This is time spent that we do not get paid for. I will be going to the teacher store and Target and Walmart to get supplies for my classroom, spending hundreds of dollars. My children will give up their time to come and help me with my bulletin boards and all the small details that go into setting up my classroom. Next week, Thursday, I will begin all the back-to-school meetings and learning of the new changes and expectations in my district this year, which will inevitably entail a great deal of additional work in addition to all of last year's expectations. Teaching, it is perceived as an easy gig, working 6.5 hour days and having summers off. In reality teachers have one of the most difficult jobs, we have responsibilities that go above and beyond that of a normal human being. To be a teacher you must be willing to dedicate your life to the educational process. When I dreamt of being a teacher I could never imagine all the work that would go into teaching, yet with all that teaching entails, I could never imagine myself doing anything else. Teaching is my calling and I wear my title proudly. The life of a teacher may not be as easy as one perceives it to be but, the life of a teacher is the life for me.
For the second part of summer I taught a math camp. The purpose of this camp was to get the kid's math brain jump started. In an effort to keep it fun and educational we utilized iPads in our program. As a reward at the end of the day we allowed them to play a game called "Subway Surfers." I truly don't know how they play this game. They use their fingers to maneuver a character on, around, and through things collecting coins. Watching them jump, dive, and roll through the video game is amazing to me. They do this with such intent and skill. As I was driving to work today, avoiding the trucks, watching a truck speed through a red light, having traffic lights switch to blinking red with no warning, it reminded me of this video game. I felt like I was jumping, diving, and rolling all the way to work. Then it dawned on me that life is a bit like that too. We are always jumping, diving, and rolling our way through life trying to collect the coins. We don't always do it as skillfully as my students' characters do. Life seems harried and a bit overwhelming at times. I think it might be a good idea to pause once in a while to think about what our goal is and what we want to achieve. I hope to hit that pause button soon!
You hear it time and time again, people who have had a near death experience come back from that experience with a new outlook. This is true for me as well. No one will be making a movie about my experience however, it has given me great insight. Having many nights to think I couldn't help but come away with new ideals and values. The one thing that I learned very quickly during my journey is that there are people who and sincere in their desire to help and then there are those that are there so that they can tell the world how wonderful they are and ask for people to feel bad for them because their friend or loved one is severely ill. Luckily for me I had way more sincere people in my life than insincere. A recent incident in my life has proven to me once again, that my initial instinct is correct about their motivation to help me during my illness. This most recent incident does not change my gratitude for their help but it allows me to believe in myself and my gut feelings. Today's encouraging word of the day from K-Love once again confirms that I have made the right choice relationships, "Stay away from fools, for you won't find knowledge on their lips." Proverbs 14:7 Life has proven that our time here is too short, it is important that the people in your life are uplifting and enhance it. Do not be afraid to step aside from those that bring you down.
Today, the news reads, "Actor Robin Williams found dead in California home." Apparently, Robin Williams has died due to suicide. This is sad on many levels. He was a great actor and a very funny comedian. He entertained people and made our lives better for the time we were watching him perform. What we, his fans, obviously were missing is his internal pain. So many people in our world have an internal struggle that is so profound the only way they can make it stop is suicide. I feel a certain sadness that anyone would feel so alone and so sad that they would take their own life. I wish that people would be able to realize that it is ok to seek help to not feel that way. The Bible often gives me my strength and assurance. One of my favorite Bible verses reassures me that I am not alone. "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Isaiah 40:29 Thanks to verses such as this, I know that I am not alone. Keep alert and watch around you for friends or acquaintances that seem to be lost or sad call on them and let them know that you are there for them. Your phone call or message might just be the words that can turn them around. Rest in Peace Robin Williams, your humor will be missed.
Life can at times be very difficult. It can throw challenges and problems your way without any regard for your state of being. It is these moments that tend to bring people down and force them to give up on something. I am living proof that if you think positive and give it over to prayer, you can overcome life's challenges. I have been told I love everything. This is not exactly true, because there are many things I don't love. However, I make an effort to appreciate the little things in life. I love the smell of the seasons, the birds chirping at dawn, the way I feel when the sun shines on my face; these are the things that help me to remember that I am alive and that each day is a gift that I have been given. I chose to live happily doing things that I love. I challenge you to live happy and when you are having a bad day, try not to focus on the things that are going wrong, instead, focus on all that is right. Live happily, love the little things, and embrace the gift of life you have been given.
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A bit about me:
I am who I am thanks to God, my parents, my family, and my friends. My life is driven by faith. Oh, and I am a cancer survivor.