Friday, February 8, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up 2/8/13

Welcome to my weekly wrap up...I'm hoping to find enough to talk about this week to make a post worthwhile! :O)

In My Life This Week...
I survived turning 41.  I mopped the kitchen floor.  I really can't think of anything exciting to write about!  Then again, I guess that's the kind of week every mom longs for once in a while, a week where nothing notable exciting happens.  We week with low drama, low stress and fairly minimal comittments is a welcome break from the fast pace world we live in.  I didn't even take many...if any pictures.  It must have been a plain old week!  I'll see what I can muster up to make this post more interesting though!

In Our Homeschool this Week.../ What's Working for Us.../ Tips to Share...
We are on week 6 of using daily planners.  In preparing our oldest for high school next year, I have him use a daily agenda of what he needs to accomplish.  The younger kids wanted to use one too, so now I write their assignments in two weeks at a time and we try to stick by them.  One of the joys of homeschooling is that I can adjust any assignment or due date if need be while at the same time teach the kids the value of accomplishing a task "on time."  By next year, hopefully Caleb (the future freshman) will be able to look over his agenda, see the week's worth of work and pace himself to get it done fairly independently.  Prior to the last 6 weeks, we just simply picked up each day where we left off the day before with little goal in mind of how far we would "go" each day.  I loke both ways of teaching...the knowing of the destination and the not caring hor far we get but simply reading and doing 'till it feels like we have accomplished enough for one day.  When I planned for the last 2 weeks ending with today, I left much of today's page blank so the kids could make up anything not finished.  This made for a fabulous Friday as the kids had about a half a regular day's worth of work to do.  We ended the day with a Ken Ham video, they feel like they tied up all of the last 2 week's loose ends, and all of us are enjoying a slower paced Friday.  Ahhhhhh!  That's the life for me!  
The kids LOVE to cross off each assignment after they complete it!

I am Inspired By...
My middle man.  He choose to work ahead in his daily agenda. The concept of writing out assignments ahead of time will probably really pay off for him.  If he sees that he has X amount of work to do by X date, he will likely press ahead to be done earle rather than procrastinate 'till the last minute!

One thing we are Working on This Week...
The kids have so much trouble remembering which "W" words have an "h" and which ones don't.  We TRY to remember that the words that ask a question have "H's" and the rest don't.

Places we Went and People we Saw...
We had a young lady come over on Thursday too tell us about her upcoming mission work and what she had been doing in Germany.  I hope my kids will develop the same missional mindset no matter where God takes them as a young adult.  It was so inspiring to hear her say that she is open to wherever God leads her.  Whether serving in the mission field or serving in a career, I hope my kids are as open to whatever or wherever God calls them.  

I'm a Little Disapointed by... (and a little embarassed to admit)
the fact that there is no blizzard coming to Indiana this weekend!  I love snow.  I don't really love the cold, but if it has to be winter and if it has to be cold then I do love looking out the window at a blanket of fresh snow!  I also love a day or two a year when my husband is snowed in and we absolutely can't go anywhere for a few days until we are plowed out.  That hasn't happened for a couple of years around here.
This is the present view from my yard.  I would love to see it covered in drifts of white!  At the same time...I miss green grass and leaves!

On the flipside... I saw a tree full of robins earlier this week!  They are usually not back until the last week of February!  While I am sad to not be snowed in, I LOVE the fact that spring is just around the corner!  (I wish I had my camera with me to show you the ribins, but I didn't!)

Questions I have...
Am I preparing my kids for their future or just giving them what I think they need?  Is the former school teacher in me an assett or a hindrance?  I wrote a post this past week about whether or not to renew my teacher's lisence.  Click HERE to see what conclusions I came to.

I'm Cooking...
Comfort foods like home made mac and cheese in the crock pot!  Tonight or tomorrow, we'll be baking for a new neighbor down the road!  Where I live a neighbor is still a neighbor even if they are 2 1/2 miles away!  The family has kids that are younger than mine but are homeschoolers! How cool is that?!

I'm Grateful For...
The heated throw blanket the kids' gave me for my birthday!  This 116ish year old house gets mighty drafty in the winter!  My daughter even gave me a Colts Blue scrapbook so I can put all of the pics we took of my cousin along with his newspaper articles.  (This was his first year in the NFL!) 

A Video To Share... (Click the link to go to a post where the video is uploaded...I can't seem to get it directly in this post.)
As I prepare for my trip to Africa this summer, I keep reminding myself that I am about to be VERY Shocked upon entering a third world country.  This video really made me think about what truely important...
One more thing... does anyone know of a good Bible Geography bok or website?  I am getting ready to make a "Bible Geography Bowl" type of game for my kids for our Bible time for the rest of the school year.  We are making a big poster size map of Israel and the surrounding area and I am writing questions for them about all the places in the Bible (that I can come up with.).

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First world problems read by third world people [LEGENDADO]

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Teaching Degree

My teaching licensee expires this coming summer.  I haven't even had the piece of paper out in at least 2 years.  I'm pretty sure it is still in the satchel I used the last time I interviewed for a job a few years ago.  It took over a year before I even moved that satchel out of my closet to deal with cleaning it out.  My last few interviews were such a great loss to me (at the time and for at least a year afterward) that I left the bag in my closet buried under anything that fell on it.  The loss of my career came at a HUGE emotional price for me.

Those of my friends and family who know me best know that a stubborn streak runs deep in me.  When I set my mind to doing something I am pretty stubborn about getting it done.  When someone tells me that I can't do something I get pretty stubborn about proving them wrong.  (I don't mean for that person to be God, but it has happened.)  When I thought God still wanted me to return to teaching in a public school I stubbornly sought a job for years. (I spent a few years teaching before our oldest son was born and assumed that God would lead me down that path again after all the kids were in school.)  Unfortunately my stubborn streak also has a down side.  What I thought was a noble pursuit, a calling, was merely what I wanted and not necessarily what God wanted anymore.  I was clinging to my dream of what I assumed God still wanted for me and kept striving long after he revealed to me that he had another plan.

During my last teaching job I kept thinking throughout the day things like, "Boy it would be nice to throw in a load of laundry between these two classes."  Or, "It's so nice out today! It sure would be nice to spend the afternoon at the State Park and hike..."  Or, I really wish my kids had more one on one help in the areas where they are weakest."  Whenever a thought like these popped up, I shoved them back down with a bit of grief, wondering why I thought them so often when I was preparing for yet another interview.  "The one that would continue my career."

Do I regret having taught in the public education system?  No.  Do I think God had me there for a reason? Yes.  Then why did he have me there for a while to whet my appetite and love for teaching and then take it away?  At least that's what I thought happened.  I really thought my career was taken away.  At the time I didn't get yet another job I had no idea what God had in store for me.  I was simply grieving what I lost. I tried to pray and be open minded in asking God to direct me but didn't really trust where that would lead.  I had no idea that my new normal would still be teaching!

My new normal includes teaching in a mostly one room schoolhouse.  It allows me to teach in my jammies and throw in a load of laundry whenever I want.  It allows me to cancel classes on those days when (rarely) the sky is so blue that we just have to go hike all afternoon.  My new "career" has a student teacher ratio of 3:1!  How unreal is that?   I am now teacher, principal, superintendent, nurse, custodian, cook, counselor and so much more. I should have a pretty impressive salary!  I even have colleagues! I LOVE my new colleagues!  We get together once a month, rather than daily in the teacher's lounge, to pray over our lives and families as homeschool moms.  It's a very precious time that is very encouraging to me new career.

I am not a public educator anymore, but I still have the heart of a teacher.  Did that heart come from receiving a degree?  From that nice piece of paper with my name and Indiana License number on it?  Did it come from being formally trained?  I don't think so.  I think the heart of a teacher runs far deeper than that.  I have so many friends still who are public educators who have the heart of a teacher.  (I also sadly know many more who just punch in the time clock and don't have their hearts in it.)  Whether we have a contract or work for no pay at all other than random hugs from our kids throughout the day and hearing an excited shout of  "I got it!" the heart of a teacher is something that is not soley reserved for those whose name is on a certificate.

With that in mind, my new colleagues have teacher hearts as well!  Most have no paper that say they were once professional educators.  Some were homeschooled themselves and have never even set foot inside a public school classroom!  But their hearts are pure!  Their teacher hearts are just as dedicated.  Their curriculum choices and methods are just as valid.  Their children are learning just as much...sometimes more.

In fact I have learned in my past three years as a homeschool mom that the rest of the moms, the ones with no formal education training even have some advantages over me!  They have never been trained or given standardized tests.  They have never been trained to look for shortcomings in students that need remediated.  They have never had to watch a student slip through the cracks simply because there was not enough help to work with him or her one on one.  They have no preconceived notions of where a child, their child, "should be" at a given age.  They simply see their children for who they are.  They teach them where they are at...not where the norm is set.  Statistics rarely matter; individual children do.

Reaching the individual child is what drives the heart of every great teacher whether public or home educator.  What those of us who have handled a classroom of 20 - 30 students at a time have to come to terms with is that in a group that size, working with each student one on one is almost impossible.  Someone is bound to be left behind.  The heart of a great educator breaks when that happens!

The other moms often tell me that I am at such an advantage over them.  In my self confidence maybe.  What they fail to understand however is that I am constantly trying NOT to compare my own kids with where their same age peers are.  I have worked with the most ambitious, self starter kids who make straight A's as well as those who have to be told over and over and over to lift their pencils.  Sometimes my kids fall to one end of the spectrum and sometimes they fall at the other.  I am trying my best to see them as just Caleb, Josh and Carolyn and not 8th, 6th and 4th graders.  They each have their own unique talents as well as deficits.  Why is it that some days I only see the deficits?  I think that along with the confidence I have in a classroom of any size, 3 or 33, comes the training of always looking for shortcomings.  There was always something to be remediated in my career.  There was not always individuality to encourage.  Individuality takes time.  Individual curriculum and attention are just not all that possible in my old world of teaching.  Running with a passions of the child's or teachers may or may not fit into the state curriculum.

My new school, however, is very individualized.  I am praying that over time I can be free enough to see only the individuals, and take them as far and as fast as their little brains can soar.  I am praying that I will not spend all of my energy remediating every little deficit in my kids.  I pray that I can see them as God does, as individuals.

Do I have the advantage of having a piece of paper with my name on it?  Maybe, maybe not.  Are there great teachers who have no paper with their name on it? Absolutely!  Do we get a salary?  Well maybe not monetarily!  But the benefits in our individual children will hopefully be a lifelong love of learning with an emphasis not on rote learning but rather on a tailored curriculum that has been prayed over and endorsed not be the state but by  the God who created them.  My goal is no longer to meet state standards but to meet God's.  I pray that I am preparing my kiddos not for the state's work but God's.

In July when my license expires will that make me less of an educator? I hope not.  I think not.

Blessings to you educators who have never set foot in a public school building in your life!  And Blessings to you my friends who set foot in one every weekday morning (and evenings and Saturdays...'cause I know how that works!).  To all of you, the true educators.  Teachers with heart!  Blessings to you this week whether you are teaching in your jammies or in a new tailored suit!  Blessings to you whether you class consists of 3 or 30!  Blessings to you whether your name has ever appeared on a piece of paper or not.

May your heart be encouraged today whether you will be starting the new week in heels or slippers!  We all have the same job to do no matter what kind of school God places us in!