Friday, October 30, 2009

Today I came home and changed sweaters. Mr. Rogers? Is that you?

This day marks my having taught for a month. Today I had an experience that reminded me of how blessed I am to have the students that I have. My neighbor, Mrs. C teaches ESL and she asked me to start her class off so she could run quickly to do something. I was more mean in that class in the seven minutes I was in there than I have been in the entire month that I have taught both of my classes. I forgot how it felt. I mean, it was delightful to get in a student's face and say "What did I just say about adverbs?" but really, who wants to have to be a jerk? It takes grammar Nazi to a whole new level. I had a student in that class who is also in my first period and he just sat there in disbelief over the teacher terror that I had become.

Ohhh, I love my kids.

Also today, my students' college counselor came and spoke to them, and they started freaking out. Not only did I have a student offer to bake me cookies, I had my entire class ask if they could start a Ms. Jackson sponsored club so they could pad their resumes. They consistently keep me laughing.

currently listening to: swing life away, rise against

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Last night I finished reading the book of Ezra. At first I was a little bored by the letters to the king and all the lists and genealogies but last night, I was really challenged by the way the book ends.

Ezra is convicted of the Israelites' intermarriage with women of races who had "detestable practices." He proceeds to weep and mourn for the sins that were committed. I don't really ever feel strongly affected by sin. I remember shedding tears over the sins of other people, but not my own. I barely acknowledge the fact that I have sins.

What happens next is that the people of Israel put their wives "away". At first, I got really sad. The first thought to pop into my head was what if they loved their wives. Then I realized that it was what God was asking his people to do. It didn't matter how much they loved what he had asked them to give up.

On Sunday, Greg preached out the Prodigal Sons. He talked about the different features of the Father's love for both his wayward sons. Anyways, one facet of the Father's love for his boys is that it's costly. His one son asked for his inheritance, and so the Father liquidated his estate to give his younger son what he asked for - that cost him one third of all his belongings. The other way it was costly was that he had to endure the insult of his younger son and the shame that his son placed on him though his actions. Christ gave up so much because his very essence is love and he could do no less, despite the cost. When God asks his people to give something up, no matter how dear it may be, it should be given up out of a grateful heart. When we have to give something up for God, we often think about what we are missing out on, instead of what we are gaining.

I want a heart that is willing to give up whatever God asks of it. And I want a heart that breaks over its own sin.

Here's a story from my classroom today:

I gave new assigned seats today. I had no idea that it would be the cause of so much WHINING. "But Ms. Jackson- I loved my old seat!" Listen, people are creature of habit. I am well aware of this because I am the most habitually driven of all the people in the whole world, but it was time to change things up because there was just a little too much talking. They'd gotten to comfortable. So I assured that next quarter when I change up their seats again, they would be just as whiny and like their former seats just as much and then they would get used to it. I don't really think that this was reassuring, but they'll live. Kids are delightfully resilient.

In second period, I was a little concerned because I put A and J a little closer than I'd like to have, but really there are only so many seats. So true to form, I get my kids working on their journals today, and A turns around to talk to J. I mean, they were kind of on topic because they were discussing what J was writing in his journal, which was questionable even though asked for them to keep it g/pg for my teacher brain. So, I decided to cut in by asking A, "Are you going to be able to handle sitting this close to J?" A responded to me by saying, "Really Ms. Jackson, the question is can you handle it." And I think that that is a very good question, one that I am still pondering and one that is applicable to many areas of my life.

I'd like to fix dinner now, but there is a very content, warm cat lounging on my stomach. I'll figure it out.

currently listening to: Question, Rhett Miller (cute, cute song, but oddly enough, I don't like the rest of his stuff. Sorry Rhett.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Your Mom" Jokes Are Understandable In Any Language, I Guess.

I love my job. I love getting to interact with the students on a daily basis. I've been told that these first few years are precious because of the closeness in age that allows me to relate to my students so easily. It's so important for me to remember that my job is a privilege.

Today I had a really funny interaction with some of my second period students. I love Western because it's so diverse. Five of my fourteen students are Hispanic in second period and they usually chat in Spanish when they don't want me to know what they're talking about. I try to listen for curse words and other words that I shouldn't know but somehow picked up in my years of Spanish education. I had yet to say anything to them, because usually I really only pick up a word here or there. Today, M. and J. got into a friendly quarrel and when I sent M. back across the room his his desk, he let out a string of Spanish I couldn't even hope to understand except for that his sentence ended in "TU MADRE." I quickly cut in saying "M! Stop talking about his mom!" Class came to somewhat of a standstill as all my Spanish speaking students "oooo-d" at the fact that I understood and that I called M. out. It was a proud moment for me. And it was funny, especially considering that I have no idea what M. really said to J. because I only understood two words. After the yelling and the shock subsided, we were able to focus and finish The Crucible.

I must say, reading The Crucible has been really fun because the students fight over which part they are going to read, which I love! If there's going to be a fight in my classroom, please let it always be over who gets to read John Proctor or Revered Hale. It's so much fun to teach something that your students want to learn.

Also, while I have your attention I would like to mention that comments like "How am I not making an A in here- this is English. This is my language and English is like the easiest class ever." make me really mad. Comments like this make me want to throw whiteboard markers or something...It makes me want to say "maybe you should stop acting entitled to grades and whip your little tail in gear." Kids these days...

Who am I kidding? I love them. Dearly.

currently listening to: Death Cab and coughing right outside my window

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How you view the day

It is quite possible that I am always one step away from insanity. I am also trying to convince myself daily that just because something bad happens doesn't mean that I have to have a bad day or that I have to bring it into my classroom. For example, just because this morning I locked my keys in my car and had to walk to my sisters and back to get my spare key, making me late to a department meeting doesn't mean my day has to be bad. Or when T. set her coffee cup on fire in my microwave, or when S, affectionately known by the boys as Lady Gaga, comes into class 40 minutes late with a balloon distracting everyone...These things must not make my day bad. They must be viewed as little challenges to make my day more exciting.

Also, I would like to say that when T. caught her coffee mug on fire, she said, "I'm sorry Ms. Jackson." As soon she said that, I paused, waiting for someone to start singing. And E. did and I laughed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today I collected my students' journals.

I was going to go the Green Bean to grade all these journals, but several problems arose:

1. I don't really feel well enough to ever leave my house again, plus it's cold outside which also makes me want to hibernate.

2. I would have to carry 28 journals into the coffee shop.

3. When I grade my students' work, I tend to laugh out loud.

Here are some examples of why I have the best job in the world (see also: reasons why Emily laughs while grading student work...):

(The third one makes me laugh really hard.) I had them draw a vocabulary word. Anyways, I am going to sleep for a week and grade some journals.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am a dish washing machine. I wear an apron when I wash dishes. I don't like people to know this, because I look silly, but otherwise I splash too much. David and Katie caught me in my apron because they knocked on my door when I least expected it.

The weather is a bit too chilly for me already, but the trees are starting to turn colors and for that I am excited. I walked to David and Josh's earlier and was surprised to find the coldness delicious. I think chill at night is different than the day time. I mind being cold less at night.

I want to grow this week in dependency on God. I want to be like Christ to those that I interact with -- my colleagues, my students, my friends. I want to bring joy to God's heart.

currently listening to: the killers

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saying Yes.

It's me and ninja cat here. We hang out a lot these days.

I am reading a book by Ann Kiemel, called Yes. I just read the first chapter called "Saying Yes to Loneliness."

It was like reading my own brain. She is so articulate. She says, "I didn't want to be a speaker and writer and world-changer." She goes on to say that she wants to be a wife and a mother. She talks of being lonely as a kid, and as a college student and how as a teacher, she didn't know how to interact with the other teachers because she was so different than them. She didn't want to be alone, but being alone was what God had called her to for the time being.

This is going to sound funny but last night I had a dream that I was pregnant. It was a dream full of excitement and family and hope for the future. When I woke up, I was so disappointed that it wasn't real. I kept rubbing my stomach to make sure that it wasn't real. Of course, I can assure you with utmost certainty that it was only a dream, but it was so nice. I was disappointed to wake up before the baby came.

It seems as though people are living the dream. The get married, having beautiful children dream. But you know what? I am also living a dream and I have a good life.

Granted, I have to eat an entire bag of popcorn by myself. I can do it, because I am a bottomless pit, but I like to share.

Seriously though, I am so blessed to have a little cat, and house and friends and a wonderful job where I get to interact with precious children on a daily basis. No one intrudes here unless I let them. That is a gift and a curse.

Oh, to have a heart that joyfully says yes to whatever situation the Lord places me in.

Now I think I'll watch Friends because it makes me laugh.

currently listening to: A Save Situation, The Format
currently eating: apple pie, made by me!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reminders of imperfection

Today was a fairly traumatic day for me. Yesterday I was out of my classroom due to professional development, AKA getting my teacher badge made, new teacher orientation, and signing a contract. My princiPAL told me to email his secretary to have her put my students back in the classroom that they came from for the day, which I did. I also emailed her Monday to see if she was going to put them back in there or if there was going to be a sub. I never got a response, but I figured my kids were taken care of. Silly me.

I got to my classroom this morning and it was a mess. The TV was on a weird channel and my students had all signed their names on my board. I hadn't even been there five minutes when I got a phone call from a parent. She told me that she'd gotten a call from the school saying that her son wasn't in his first period class. When she questioned him about it, he told her that he didn't want me to get in trouble (Thanks, T!) but that there was no teacher in there. She said that T didn't want me to know who he was, but that she was trying to check in to see what was going on. Her guess was probably as good as mine, so I told her that there had been some miscomunication and a sub hadn't been called. I also assured her that T and all my students would be marked present for yesterday. Then I decided to go down to the office to figure out what was going on.

The office told me that I should have called a sub, even though no one had told me this and even though I didn't even know HOW to call a sub. At that point, I was frustrated and feeling like a failure and so I began to cry right there in the office. It was awesome. And by awesome, I mean totally embarrassing, but hey no one can say I don't really care about doing a good job...As tears proceeded to slip down my face, Ms. P showed me how to get a sub next time. I really wanted to be like, do you mind if I like...blow my nose? She also asked me if I had a mentor teacher to ask questions of, and I didn't/don't. I haven't had anyone to ask questions of. There's a teacher down the hall that has been really helpful to me though. He was in Ms. P's office when all of this happened and he walked me to attendance so I could mark my kids present. Later in first period, he also walked down to check on me, which I really appreciated. Sometimes I just really feel as though there is so much pressure and just having someone checking in on me makes me feel so much better. The princiPAL also told me that there's a possibility of a full time position opening up, and if it does, I would get it. God is good to me.

When I got to first period, and apologized for making a mistake, my kids told me that they were quiet and that they even did the journal entry that I had posted up on the board. I was really proud- I love my kids.

As one of my favorite literary characters says, "tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it" and for that I am glad. (bonus points if you know this character...)

I also got to see Brittany Jackson today and I hadn't seen her since January. We chatted about her impending wedding, and her optometry school and went to the green bean and drank lattes as if we were roommates again. It was so nice. AND SPEAKING OF WEDDINGS, Bristol and David are getting married and I am so excited. I got to talk to Bristol tonight and that was fun too.

This day was not a loss, even though it was hard.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen yo, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spritual Application?

Today Bobcat and I drove back from Wake Forest. I felt badly because I took her back with me for just a night and she hates driving in the car. I just didn't want to leave her alone. She meowed the entire hour and a half on the road.

To her it probably feels like death to be traveling down the road. She's scared and she doesn't know where she's going. Instead of just trusting that in the 13 or 14 years that she's been my cat, I have never done something that's not in her best interest, she cries because she is stuck, flying down the highway listening to good music.

Really what she'd probably like for me to do is pull over and let her out of the car. But because I know where we're going and that she will be very glad to get there when we do, I would never leave her by the side of the road like she might wish.

I feel as though sometimes I feel the same way with God. I have spent such a lonely, adjusting week and though I am employed my journey to trust God and see his plan is far from over. What I'd like for God to do is to stop everything and just let me be. Because he's good and loving, we continue. He has somewhere he's taking me, someone he's making me into and though I cry and moan, (sometimes not figuratively)he will not give up on me. He doesn't give me what I want on my timing, because if he did, it would be like if I pulled over on the side of the road to let my poor little cat out. It might be what she thinks she wants, but really she would be far from happy there.

That's that.

Currently listening to: Ingrid Michaelson, You and I

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hosea 6:1-3

Come and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but he will bind us up.

After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in his sight.

Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Official: Teachers are suckers for pain

Today was a great day with my kids. First period worked really hard and we had a great discussion. I was certain that second period would be terrible and that I would have to call parents because my kids were talking. But they too superseded my expectations. I was so proud. They have a quiz tomorrow and I am so hopefully that they will all do well on it because they did such a great job today. Teaching The Crucible has been fun because I think the kids really get into it.

On a different note, God has completely blessed me with a tutoring job. He pretty much dropped it in my lap and I'll be tutoring for two hours everyday.

Between teaching and tutoring, I constantly feel as though my head is going to explode, but every day, I am thirsty for more.

I am so glad to have made it though my first full week (as of tomorrow). AND I'm making bread which smells really good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Small Victories

Today when I asked my students to close The Crucible for the day, they rebelled and wanted to keep reading. They said it was just starting to "get good." One student even said she might just go ahead and keep reading on her own. Of course my literature loving heart was thrilled. I don't suppose this will happen often, but I am so excited that it happened today.

Also, I would just like to say that my friend Nicole is the biggest blessing. I have felt so estranged in Greensboro thus far, which is so weird for me, and Nicole has been so faithful to call me.

Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in the frustrating but God is good and I need to remember it.

currently listening to: Jimmy Eat World, Stay on My Side Tonight

Monday, October 5, 2009

Loneliness and Change

I have now completed day three of teaching. I have also moved into my house. Thus far living is everything I thought it would be: boring, lonely and isolating. But I have plenty of extroverted friends who assure me it grows on them, so I am hoping that in a few weeks I will feel adjusted. I feel so in between in the friend department currently. I’m not a college student, and I’m not married/dating anyone which are the categories my friends seem to fall into these days. I hate seeming needy. I have trying to get in touch with people because I’m all by myself. I grow so weary of always taking care of myself, but this is adulthood. A little old lady at the bank today told me her life story today and it was the most delightful thing ever because someone was talking to me as an equal. I really enjoy my students so far. I created a seating chart today after class because I had a little too much talking. Hopefully this will nip it in the bud. If it doesn’t, I will have the joy of calling parents. The past three days have been a little frustrating because I’m still not quite in the system and so I can’t even get on my computer. I’m sure in a few weeks, this too will work itself out.

I know that this is just an adjustment. I am so blessed to have a beautiful little house and a cat. I am so blessed to be employed. I am just feeling very unsettled, I guess.

I am sure that at the end of this experience I will be Emily Jackson, adult extraordinaire.

Antidote of the day:

Today I wore an outfit kind of like Zooey Deshchanel in 500 Days of Summer. You know like this:

I looked cute.

Today was also Blast From the Past day because it's spirit week. When I was taking attendance today, one of my students said, "Oh, you're dressed up today too!" I denied it and the whole class burst out laughing. It was funny. And I'm pretty sure I blushed. But seriously, you can't not laugh at that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day one: check!

I videoed my classroom on Wednesday. It already looks different, but here's a look! Note the box of trash. ALSO, it's sideways. Just turn your head!