Every time I go into the store I find myself looking at dishes. I can't really explain my attraction to dishes, other than that they're pretty and I would like to have a house full of beautiful things. As I browse through the dishes section in whatever store I may happen to be in, I tell myself, when I get married, I will have a registry and then I will get some wonderful dishes.
Saturday, when Mom and the girls went shopping, I was too sick to go, but there were sales and I knew which dishes I wanted so I gave Mom some money and had her go get these for me:
I decided that waiting to get married to get dishes that aren't pink and plastic is silly. I have not given up on marriage by any stretch of the imagination, and I cannot wait to fall in love and work hard at a relationship every day for the rest of my life, but I don't want to miss out on things now. These dishes are a symbol of living in the now. I am going to enjoy them, and eat off of them and you are welcome to join me.
The other day as I drove down the road toward Wake Forest, I was thinking about my precious students. I have not yet learned to leave my work at home in the respect, although I never really get to leave my work at home because planning and grading seem to never be done. I'm not complaining though, I like to plan thus far. As I learn more and more about my students (that they have babies, or are on drugs, or are homeless or have terrible heartbreaks (as do we all, some greater than others. some at younger ages than others)) I cannot help sometimes but to be burdened down.
I drove down the road, mulling all this over-- pondering the lives of the various children that God has placed in my classroom when this song began to play: The First Noel/ Mary Mary
Suddenly I realized that redemption for each of my students was in the birth and death of God made flesh in Jesus Christ. A favorite of mine, CS Lewis wrote in his book Miracles that "He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, . . . to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him."
That is a strength to hope in. He is making all things new, singing over creation and in hearts, calling people to himself. Here was the hope that my students seek in their hearts as the run from the empty to the empty. Hope is not found in me, nor in my worrying over them. Hope, for me and for them, is only found in Christ and hope is found in my bringing them to his throne in prayer. (Just like their mamas should be doing.) Hope is found in prayer that Christ will take hold of their hearts and bring them to Heaven one day.
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" reminds us that The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
I hope that you are delighted as your hopes and fears are met in Christ this Christmas and as you continue to walk in his light this year.
My two favorite Christmas moments this year are as follows:
1. Linden begged Dad to call her new phone so she could hear her ring tone. Dad called it several time and then proceeded to dance wildly around the kitchen. Lindy and Dad say it's the "best ring tone ever."
2. Last night I had a terrible time sleeping. I had a fever and I couldn't stop coughing. Mom came and made me take medicine at 4 which had something in it to help me sleep. Needless to say, when Chels and Lindy came to get me at 7 or 8, I was out cold. I was super groggy, but I do vaguely remember cold fingers on my neck and hearing Lindy tell Chelsea that she was "taking my pulse."
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" - A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Tomorrow is Christmas. I could barely believe that today was Christmas Eve. In the business of school and illness, I have been so preoccupied. I have only gotten out of my bed a couple times today and yesterday. While you would think that that would give me lots of time to reflect on the birth of Christ, really my thoughts have only been on myself. Funny how easy it is to think about yourself. And by funny I mean, deadly. That worked out rather nicely (Seth Cohen would approve, see season 2 episode 5, The SnOC (oops, did I mention I haven't left my bed lately??)), as I am now at the point which I would like to make regarding the bolded quote above. We've all watched A Christmas Carol a million times and know that Scrooge's biggest downfall was the fact that he was self-consumed and so had confused his profession with his purpose. Scrooge tells Marley that he was a good businessman, to which Marley tells him that his business was mankind. What does it mean to make mankind our business? It certainly resembles the heart of God. It might be self-centered to say that Christmas was all about mankind. But in a strange paradox God sending his son to earth was all about mankind, in the most God-glorifying, sacrificing way ever. So like God, we are to be about the business of mankind. Our job mustn't be confused with the divine calling to love and serve God by loving and serving people.
Babar the elephant cat just came and got in bed with me. She went right to sleep and is smiling, cute as can be. Jacksons have a weakness for cats. But this isn't what I wanted to write about. Really what I wanted to say is that having to wait til the 22 for a Christmas break really made me long for Christmas just a little more. For four hundred years, God's people were longing for him to speak to them again. And when he did, I think that none of them could have expected what occurred. This Christmas season, I think I am more appreciative of how God used small people and places to make his grand redemptive plan come about. How often do we get caught up thinking that we are not the right person for God to use? If we look at the Christmas story, how of its elements shouldn't have been used?
I don't know if this made sense since I feel like it's really only half a thought.
Tomorrow is my last day of school til January 4. I never thought the day would come. I think I am pretty sick; I was on the couch all weekend blowing my nose and coughing up a storm. I think I am just really worn down from the semester. Fortunately we had a three hour delay today so I got to sleep in some, and I didn't have to teach either, because the students only went to periods 4-6. I was so dizzy, and I was imagining myself passing out in the commons area and hitting my head on the concrete and students walking over me and on me. I am so mellow-dramatic when I'm sick, but I can't help it.
I cannot wait for Christmas vacation. I will have a whole week and a half to myself.
Today I received a piece of advice when one of my students fell asleep in class today. I was about to wake S. up, when one of my Guatemalan students warned me to never wake a sleeping Hispanic...
It kind of sounds like a fortune cookie to me, and unfortunately it was not advice I could follow.
I lived to tell about it though.
I have three billion tests to grade, but I will be doing this from my bed as I am feeling sickly again. Boo, go away germs! I am so worn down and ready for Christmas vacation-- gotta make it to TUESDAY!
(Bobbie <3s grading papers.)
currently listening to: A Christmas Celebration, Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices
Today I let my students know that I was staying with them, and the craziest outburst of joy and strangeness occurred. I must say I am glad they feel that way.
Yesterday we made collages based on images found in Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. I was really careful to edit the magazines for sketchy pictures. I walked up to one group where three boys were talking about a scantily clad, practically naked woman and when they continued to talk about it after I was standing there, I proceeded to rip out the picture and ball it up, telling them that there was no need for them to look at things like that in my classroom. The boy who had had the magazine on his desk just sat there with his mouth open. Laughing, the other students told me that it was his personal magazine, not one of mine. This caused my mouth to fall open, and then I just laughed. In my over-zeal for protecting my students eyes and the dignity of women everywhere in my classroom, I had ripped up one of my students personal magazines. I just uncrumpled it and folded it nicely so the picture couldn't be seen and apologized. You have to laugh about that though. Today the same group held up a picture of a girl in a bra and ask me if I wanted them to rip it out of the magazine...Funny right?
Today J came into my classroom during his lunch to see if he could salvage his grade. All semester long we've been butting heads as I've begged him to engage and live up to his full potential. The only reason he cares now is because he's transferring to a local middle college. I went through my grade book to see which grade we could possibly fix. He began to tell me that his role models were his cousins who tripped on acid all through middle and high school only to go to a community college so they could transfer into a 4 year university. He told me his grades didn't matter cause usually in the last three weeks of school he could fix them. As he was sharing with me, my heart broke. Sometimes I feel silly for caring so much about my students, for agonizing in prayer for them, for begging them to succeed. Then I remembered that someone had to mourn for children who have broken lives and heart, and that it was acceptable to mourn for a little while, but that it couldn't take over my own life. I told J that I thought he bright, that I loved when he shared in class because he had great ideas, and that I expected great things in his future. There's a hard way to do things, and there's an easy way. Unfortunately people have to learn this on their own. I have 5 more days to love this child to the best of my ability and then he's out of my hands. When I almost lost my first and second periods, God reminded me once again, that they're not really in my hands anyways. I have to live with open hands as I love these students. There is no guarantee how long they will be in my class, so I have to take advantage of every day.
About a week ago, my princiPAL told me to see him before I left for the day. That is always freaky to me, and as I was going to see him, I met him in the hall and we went to my classroom so he could talk to me. He proceeded to tell me that he had a full time position to offer me because one of the other teachers was accepting another position elsewhere. I was super siked, but then my princiPAL told me that they were going to give me all the classes of this other teacher, and they were going to hire another part time teacher to take my classes. This was the most bittersweet piece of news ever. I shut my classroom door and cried because I was so disappointed that they were going to take my students away and give them to someone else. We had all worked so hard together, and it had only been two months that they'd been with me and I felt like everything had finally settled into a routine.
So all this was in the works, and I decided that I would email my princiPAL and respectfully ask that we find a way around someone else taking my students. Part of the problem was that Ms. H (the leaving teacher)taught first period and then had a planning period, so we couldn't just swap classes.
On Thursday in the beginning of class, E asked me if I was going to take over Ms. H's classes, and I told him yes. His question was then, "What's going to happen to us?" Everyone in the classroom was suddenly listening and I hadn't planned on saying anything until I knew what happened. It was a RIOT; they were so upset. They told me that they had come to my class cause they knew that I was a good teacher. I told them that that was crazy and that for all they knew, I was crazy. But they argued that they knew that I was good, and that they wanted to stay with me. I told them that I was just as upset as they were, that I had even cried about it and A asked me if they were tears of joy. They bombarded me with arguments and questions, of which I had no answers. E apologized for bringing it up.
Friday they asked me if they had fixed it, but the prinicPAL was out for the day so I couldn't even talk to him.
That brings us to today, when I ended up having a conference with the princiPAL and one of the vice pricipALS. I felt so intimidated, but they invited me to pull up a chair and Mr. A (PrinciPAL) said he assumed that I had a solution. I told him that I did and suggested that the part time teacher be given Ms. H's first period and third periods, with second as a planning period, that way I could continue teaching my first and second periods with planning during third period. I told them that I was concerned that my students would have had 3 teachers during the school year. Mr. A said he liked my plan and that he was glad they hired me because he knew that I had worked hard with my current students and he appreciated that I was thinking about the kids.
I went back into my classroom and did what some people might call a dance. I was so excited.
Today I am praising Jesus for a full time job, and for his allowing me to continue teaching my precious kids. He didn't have to provide either of these things for me, but he did and I am so overwhelmed by his goodness.
My weekend was great but I don't think it's G-rated (I always tell them to keep it G or PG for me) I will write a poem about nothing I ever stated. There once was a squirrel swinging From a tree He slipped and fell, that's all I could see He scrapped the last branch though He was safe on at height Yet, I never thought I would Write about him in a journal: free write.
Pre- School: This morning when I walked to my classroom there was a little rose plant sitting there. They were from my Induction Coach from downtown. I was pretty excited. I wanted to do a dance, but since I'm a teacher, I try to be mature most of the time.
1st period: This morning I was starting class when B read the announcements on the tv. She read, "Happy Birthday Emily Jackson" and of course I looked at her because she'd read my name. That's when the class realized that I am Emily Jackson and it was my birthday. Of course they were all super sweet and told me happy birthday and wanted to know why I hadn't told them before. And then we ate cookies.
2nd period: By this time, my students had all had a chance to see the announcements, thus seeing that it was my birthday so when they walked in, they all told me happy birthday right off the bat. They too wanted to know why I hadn't told them. JP asked if he and E could go to Starbucks and get me birthday coffee. Boy, do they know me, or what? I said no, but if anything could have enticed me to let them out, coffee might have been it. I could see them whispering behind their journals, which kind of made me roll my eyes, mainly because I didn't know it was about me. Then they sang to me. I really don't like being sung to, because I don't like the focus all being on me, and so I started blushing, which of course they had a blast making fun of me for. M and A gave me paper airplanes. And then we ate cookies.
Also, I had a bit of a riot during second period because one of my students leaked some information out to the rest of the class. I am pretty worn out and I will probably blog about that this weekend, so stay tuned. (:
1. Tomorrow I am 23 and I bought my students cookies. Although this seems twisted, and they should buy me cookies, I hate to make a big deal about my birthday and so I didn't even tell them that tomorrow is THE BIG DAY.
2. Every time my students ask if I have a boyfriend, I tell them it's personal, even though I don't really think it is. What I do think is that little boys can't really handle that kind of information.
3. One of my second period boys thinks it's funny to joke about stealing my coffee. What he doesn't know is that if that were to happen, things would rapidly become un-funny for him.
4. I have a student who gives me an evil look every day as he walks into the classroom and every day I still cheerfully greet him. Today I wasn't standing in the doorway, so he waited for me outside of the classroom until I was back at the door so he could give me his look and come in. Apparently it's our thing.
5. My first period girls told me today that they were at Ham's and the waiter was cute. They asked me if next time I wanted them to get his number for me.
6. One of my students told me that he gives me a difficult time so in the succeeding years my job will seem easier. How sweet...
7. Today my class was harassing one of my problem children, and I told them to leave him alone because he was a "good kid." My students were shocked by these words coming out of my mouth.
8. Today one of my students gave me a college recommendation form to fill out for him. It blows my mind that I can write a college recommendation and his fate is in my hands.
9. Today two of my kids asked me if I'd heard the song "Meet Me Halfway" by the Black Eyed Peas. I said that I hadn't, and they proceeded to sing it for me, with motions and told me to listen to it later. Unfortunately, when I did, I preferred the student version.
10. I obviously work with the strangest, best children in the world.
PS. I would like to ask for prayer for a situation at work which I shall not yet disclose to the blogosphere until it has resolution. But please ask for God's will to be done and for peace with whatever that is. God knows my heart, and we will see what happens.
Today a teacher told me that you either see young teachers or old teachers, because teaching has changed. She said that the first two years she was really gung ho about teaching, but now, in her fifth year, she is ready to do something new. This worries me.
And now, I am on my way to bed because I am sickly and have no time for a sub. I have things to do with the kiddies!
I never really considered myself to be a bitter person, and usually when I have an issue with someone I talk to them so that I can move on from it but today I began to reflect on myself after seeing someone unexpected walk into my church today. This was someone that I had been really close to, and for whatever reason, they decided that I wasn't important enough to keep as their friend. I felt so bitter and angry sitting there in church and I was really surprised at myself. I began to think about why I could possibly feel so bitter and I realized that when I let someone into my life and they majorly disappoint me and make no effort to redeem themselves, it causes me to become bitter. Looking closely, I realized that there are a few people that I feel this way towards. I could forgive someone if they were sorry for hurting me, but some people don't care. In a way, staying bitter keeps them a part my life. If I forgive them and move on, then it's like we were never friends. I know that sounds funny. I want this person to care. I want them to wish we were still friends because I do. But they don't, and they never will.
I guess I just don't know what the next step is. Now that I've identified myself as holding bitter feelings towards certain people what do I do? They don't care that I have been hurt, and these feelings only hurt me.
Somehow I have to just release it all and let it go.
Yesterday, I was really excited to try the lesson I had planned. Unfortunately since I am a newbie I never really know if things will work, I can only hope. So yesterday I decided that we would take the sections of Walden, Or Life in the Woods, and we would read it in groups. Then I was going to have each group present the information to the class, and that way we didn't all have to read the entire thing. In theory this was a lovely idea but I think it broke down because my groups were too big. Next time I try this, I have some good ideas for improvement, but yesterday it was more than their little brains could handle. Plus, Walden is kind of boring. There was one question in particular that really stumped the kids. I was attempting to explain the question to the class so that the group could then present the answer. When I finished, J responded by laughing and asking why I had told them all that and some other "unnecessary" comments. He seems to make a habit of not listening to the directions and then not knowing what's going on. Frustrating. When he questioned why I was giving them information, I momentarily lost my temper, because he had been talking and not listening all day. I told him to get out of my class because he was being a "smart ass." My face was red and I was frustrated and my mind blanked on any other way to state his behavior. "Smart alec" would have sufficed, but it didn't come out of my mouth. I followed him out of my classroom and we had a chat in the hall. While we were out there, I apologized to him for speaking to him in such a manner. Fortunately, he told me that we were "straight." Then I headed back in with J to apologize to the class. There is nothing more humbling than looking into the eyes of a classroom full of 16 and 17 year olds and apologizing for not speaking appropriately. I was so upset at myself. Here's the crazy part. After class, one of my students who had also been talking and not focusing on the task at hand, came up and apologized to me for not being respectful. I was floored. Not that I'd recommend making mistakes that warrant an apology to the world but it was really cool to see how the situation was redeemed (in a sense), as I modeled asking for forgiveness and in turn, one of my students did the same to me. Again, how humbling.
Today was much better. In fact, my second period made me so excited and proud I could have done back flips. We finished discussing Walden today and then we began a discussion on non-conformity. I read to them from a chapter of a story called Stargirl that is really relevant and very well written. Then I put the following quotes up on the board:
“How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.”- Walden
“The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion (object of dislike)…Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.” – Self-Reliance
“We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.” – Stargirl
I asked them to tell me what they thought of conformity based on the quotations. I asked them if it was easy or difficult to be their own person and if they thought they that they were conformists or an individualists.
I gave them ten minutes and then I read to them my response from my journal. I asked them to share with me their responses. After I finished they were so funny because they told me that after I shared, theirs didn't sound any good anymore. I reminded them that I majored in English and had had a bit more time to finely hone my writing skills. Then...
Their hands shot up! We had such a good conversation and they were so respectful of each other and so brave in sharing.
That is why I am a teacher.
On both of these days, I was vulnerable and shared myself in completely different ways, planned and unplanned. And incredibly, students responded, in ways I never would have imagined.
All I know is that God is so merciful.
currently listening to: Sufjan Stevens: Songs for Christmas, Holy, Holy Holy
Today after class today, two of my students told me that they really like what we did in class today. Now, I never know if I am being manipulated, but I also liked what we did in class today, so I am just gonna take it as a sign that our discussion on "Self-Reliance" went well. I always try to come up with things that will get their attention, but today we just read and discussed as we went. I was able to find some really good questions in the book that were relevant to the kids, which I loved.
My students are so funny. Today my second period teased me about my fire drill failings, and I had a pretty good laugh at a student trying to pronounce the word "hobgoblin." Mainly because he wasn't even trying and it came out something like, "hob-bob-wehfoueahf", also known as gibberish. I just laughed right now as I thought about it again. Even on bad days, I really am so blessed to have the students that I have. It is so strange the range of emotions that I feel within a day as I interact with my kids. Your first year's supposed to be your most challenging, but I feel like this is as good as it gets. Hopefully not.
I have no idea where I'll be next year, if I will get to teach at Western again or if I'll get to go full time, but for now I just want to soak it in and love the time that I have.