Willing that the Will will be

So my church just finished a sermon series focusing on the Will of God and how we might discern and respond to God’s Will for our lives. And honestly, this series couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as the question of God’s Will is something I’ve been wrestling with for several months. Lemme build the setting here:

So at the beginning of this year, I finished my Transition to Teaching program at IWU and received my Teacher’s License so I could teach US and World History. This accomplishment as clear affirmation to me that God wanted me to pursue a career in education. I spent the rest of the school year as a substitute teacher, doing both day-to-day assignments and a couple of longer term positions. And I loved it. So when summer rolls around, I had two decisions to make: first, where was I going to work over the summer and second, how far would my search for a teaching job take me from Warsaw? The first question didn’t really weigh on me, as I figured any job I got over the summer would be temporary until I found a teaching job. As far as the second question was concerned, I limited my search to (more or less) to Indiana around and above Indianapolis. So I applied to over two dozen schools over the summer. I heard from a handful and got a few interviews. Of those schools, two actually had the courtesy of notifying me they went with someone else. Of those two schools, one was the school I did my student teaching at, which I had considered my dream job.

So it’s now over halfway through September and I’m still at my “summer” job working as a 3rd shift Inspector for Zimmer-Biomet. So no, apparently God’s Will for my life wasn’t to be a teacher this school year. Or was it? See, I’m of the opinion that God chooses when to implement His will for our lives. And this choice might very well be dependent on how closely we are pursuing our relationship with Him and if we are living in obedience to Him. I believe that God might close a door at one point in our lives because He knows that if we access that blessing too soon, it will lose some of the magnificence and impact God intended it to have. Case and point, the first time I applied for the Transition to Teaching Program a few years ago. I was at a place of lacking direction and purpose, as well as struggling with some major areas of sin and spiritual oppression, in my life and the only route I saw to instill some change was to chase my passion for learning and become a teacher. Looking back, I should have known that the timing wasn’t right because of all adversity I faced just to get my application completed. And when everything was said and done, and my application was in and I was accepted, the door was slammed shut in my face because of a clerical error. Why? At the time I had no idea. But now, I can look back and see that God knew I wasn’t truly ready, in my maturity as a person and a believer. God knew I needed to “grow up” and it took some pretty painful lessons to reach the point where He was finally ready to re-open that door.

So fast-forward back to today. I’m working in a field I wouldn’t have considered even last year and the one teaching job I really wanted and thought I was a great fit for didn’t happen. I’ll be honest y’all, I miss being in the classroom and around students. But I cannot help but wonder God has postponed the blessing of a full-time teaching job because there’s something He wants me to learn first. Is it patience? Is it trust? It is an area of sin that I’m still harboring? Is it an area of maturity I still lack? I really don’t know, and that’s why this recent series on discerning God’s Will has been so impactful. Yet at the same time, I see how my current situation has afforded me certain opportunities. If I was teaching full-time, I probably couldn’t have taken two trips in the past month to meet and hangout with people from a Facebook group I’m in. And both of those trips ended up being a great blessing, just being able to spend time fellowshipping with people my age who are passionate about their Christian walk. I also couldn’t spend nearly as much time investing in building relationships with my various social circles. So I am aware God continues to direct my life and through my obedience to the parts of His Will I am privy to I am blessed.

But that’s the kicker folks. I feel like there’s very little of God’s plan for my life I’m actually privy to right now. I’m mentioned before I feel drawn to being a teacher, and specifically I want to work with middle schoolers, and yet I’m not currently teaching, not even as a substitute. And while I’ve continued my search, there has been no peace about any of the positions I’ve inquired about or interviewed for. I even had an interview at a charter school in Indy last Friday and yesterday morning I sent them an email withdrawing my candidacy for their opening because I couldn’t shake the feeling God still has something for me here in Warsaw. All signs still point that I’m supposed to be here, and all doors that would have led me away stayed shut.

So what is my purpose for this sudden reappearance of literary dictation of mental vomit? Well, honestly I’ve been reflecting quite a bit about the “story” of my life, as I’m less than three months from my 30th birthday. Three decades of life, and what do I have to show for it? Where am I at in my life? What sort of person am I and is that who I thought I would be 5 years ago? What sort of person will I be in 5 years? So many questions, and very few answers. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I’m a Type 5, so having too many unanswered questions and areas of knowledge unknown drives me crazy. But here is something I did discover about myself over the course of all these questions: I’m behind.

Wait, what?!? What do I mean by “I’m behind”? Well, through my investigation of the past 10 years of my life and the path it has taken, I’ve come to the opinion that I’m about four or five years behind where I could’ve (or should’ve) been developmentally (socially, emotionally, and spiritually) because of poor decisions, areas of rebellion, and sinful choices I made in my early to mid twenties. Almost every major decision I made since leaving Warsaw for college up until moving back to the area after living in Anderson for a short time, was not really beneficial to my personal growth. One of the things that made me realize my “behindness” was the age group I tend to gravitate toward. Most of my friend group are about four to six years younger than me. And if you believe in my theory of personal development, this makes perfect sense because developmentally I’m on about the same level of this age group (assuming they themselves didn’t squander their years and stagnated their growth like I did). So I have a strange division of maturity, for I have the experience and wisdom of someone perhaps older than I truly am but I lack the social skills and emotional maturity of most people my age. And so know here I am, 29, single, employed in a field I don’t really take joy from, and asking more questions than answers can be found. And all I can say is “God knows, I don’t”. And I need to live in peace with that. Because God hasn’t called me to know everything, just Him, and to obey Him when He calls me. So I guess that’s where I’m at right now, awaiting His call, and the revelation of His specific will for my life. And I guess until that happens, I have to turn to Scripture, prayer, and godly counsel from peers and mentors so that I may best pursue His will in the calling I’ve been placed in at this time. And you know what folks? It actually excites me to anticipate what God has for me in the future, because if the path my life has taken over the past few years is any indication, it’s gotta be real awesome ūüôā

 

 

S.D.G.

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The “Most Excellent” Commandment

Everyone has guilty pleasure movies. Those movies you’re afraid to admit you enjoy, either because they’re so obscure or ridiculous no one takes them seriously. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure happens to be one of mine (though technically one could consider it a classic by now). One of the many quotable lines of this films is “Be excellent to each other”, a phrase that actually lines up nicely with something I have been learning and studying over the past couple weeks. I’m talking about building relationships and establishing the Christian community.

How does one build relationships and establish the Christian community? Good question! Bill and Ted weren’t that far off, in a general sense. If we look to the Bible, there are 59 different verses in the New Testament alone that instruct how we should interact with others, and for the sake of uniformity I’ll be quoting the NKJV (not a version I typically use haha):

  1. “…have peace with one another.‚ÄĚ – Mark 9:50
  2. “…wash one another’s feet.” ¬†– John 13:14
  3. “…love one another…” – John 13:34
  4. “…love one another…” – John 13:34
  5. “…love one another…” – John 13:35
  6. “…love one another…” – John 15:12
  7. “…love one another.” – John 15:17
  8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” – Romans 12:10
  9. “…honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
  10. “Live in harmony with one another…” – Romans 12:16
  11. “…love one another…” – Romans 13:8
  12. “Therefore let us not judge one another…” – Romans 14:13
  13. “receive (accept) one another, just as Christ also received us…” – Romans 15:7
  14. “…admonish (instruct) one another.” – Romans 15:14
  15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” – Romans 16:16
  16. “…wait for one another.” – 1 Corinthians 11:33
  17. “…have the same care (equal concern) for one another.” – 1 Cor. 12:25
  18. “…greet one another with a holy kiss…” – 1 Cor. 16:20
  19. “…greet one another with a holy kiss…” – 2 Cor. 13:12
  20. “…through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13
  21. “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” – Galatians 5:15
  22. “Let us not be conceited, provoking one another or envying one another…” – Galatians 5:26
  23. “Bear one another’s burdens…” – Galatians 6:2
  24. “…with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
  25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” – Ephesians 4:32
  26. “…forgiving one another…” – Ephesians 4:32
  27. “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” – Ephesians 5:19
  28. “…submitting to one another in the fear of God (also, out of reverence for Christ).” – Ephesians 5:21
  29. “…in the lowliness of mind (humility), consider one another better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
  30. “Do not lie to one another…” – Colossians 3:9
  31. “Bearing with one another…” – Colossians 3:13
  32. “… and forgiving one another…” – Colossians 3:13
  33. “…teaching (one another)…” – Colossians 3:16
  34. “…admonishing one another…” – Colossians 3:16
  35. “…may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 3:12
  36. “…love one another;” – 1 Thessalonians 4:9
  37. “…comfort (encourage) one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
  38. “…comfort (yup, encourage) one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  39. “…edify (also encourage) one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  40. “…exhort (more encouraging!) one another daily…” – Hebrews 3:13
  41. “…consider (encourage!!!) one another in order to stir up love and good works…” – Hebrews 10:24
  42. “…exhorting (continual encouragement) one another…” – Hebrews 10:25
  43. “Do not speak evil of one another…” – James 4:11
  44. “Do not grumble against one another…” – James 5:9
  45. “Confess your¬†trespasses to one another…” – James 5:16
  46. “…pray for one another…” – James 5:16
  47. “Live in harmony with one another…” – 1 Peter 3:8
  48. “…having compassion for one another…” – 1 Peter 3:8
  49. “…have fervent love for one another…” – 1 Peter 4:8
  50. “Be¬†hospitable to one another without grumbling…” – 1 Peter 4:9
  51. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another…” – 1 Peter 4:10
  52. “…all of¬†you¬†be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility…” – 1 Peter 5:5
  53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” – 1 Peter 5:14
  54. “…love one another.” – 1 John 3:11
  55. “…love one another…” – 1 John 3:23
  56. “…love one another…” – 1 John 4:7
  57. “…love one another.” – 1 John 4:11
  58. “…love one another…” – 1 John 4:12
  59. “…love one another.” – 2 John 5

Notice a pattern? Love and serve are primary among these examples. It should come as no surprise that these authors are mirroring Jesus’s response to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:37-38; to love God and love others. How does one love others? Well to support the list above, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “Love is patient,¬†love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.¬†It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,¬†it is not easily angered,¬†it keeps no record of wrongs.¬†Love does not delight in evil¬†but rejoices with the truth.¬†It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.¬†Love never fails…” This is the foundation of building relationships and community, to love. And love is not merely an emotion, love is action. And love is specific. In C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, they are divided into “Storge” (empathy), “Phila” (friendship), “Eros” (erotic/romantic), and “Agape” (unconditional love¬†shown by God). While all these are good and purposeful, it is “Agape” love that the Christian community should strive to emulate, both within and without. I admit I do not practice this to the fullness of my potential, but it is an area I continually aim to improve, going even contrary to my natural inclinations. And that, I believe, is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. So brothers and sisters, reflect on how you might “one another” this week (and the above list is by no means the end of Biblical encouragement, as the Old Testament holds many admonishments to the same effect) but if you find yourself in a new or unusual situation and unsure of how to act, remember Bill and Ted and “Be excellent to one another!”

 

 

S.D.G.

 

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Rest(oration) and Relationships

I just realized that WordPress asks what’s on my mind when I open a new Quick Draft window. Ho boy if only WordPress knew… But that’s beside the point, because I’m really just here to call it quits. Not writing, no, this is too much of a release for me to stop. But rather seeking out a relationship. Or trying to be in control of my life in general. I know the topic of relationships seem to pop up in several of my posts lately, and for good reason. For the lack of a better way to put it, I have been pursuing a romantic relationship, mainly through online dating services, for the better part of the past five years. Yes, this means both an investment of time and money, and not a small one either. So why this admission now? Because I feel that is one of the many convictions God has placed on my heart, that I have abandoned my focus on the relationship with my ABBA Father in the hopes of finding a helpmate and spouse. This is not to say I have neglected my faith, for I have still made strides in my theological and spiritual growth during this time. However it is my direct connection to the Creator of all things that I have lost hold of.

There are some factors as to why I am suddenly facing an abyss within. First, as one might guess from having spent nearly five years pursuing a relationship, I have not much to show for it but heartbreak and hard lessons. Not to say that the lessons I have learned were not needed, but if I could go back and change some of my decisions, I can only imagine where God might have been able to use me. Second, the slow but steady fracturing of my social foundations. While my circle of friends has fluctuated frequently over the past few years, I have been living in the same house with the same person (my cousin Jake, who I consider also a close friend) for much of that time. This is about to change come the middle of August as he and another friend are headed to Dallas Theological Seminary. My heart has been aching over the departure for the familiar that I am facing, as I am a more sentimental than most people might believe. Not only this, but I am still in utter confusion what my life will look like in two months time, which brings me to reason three. Third, I am greatly desiring a teaching position so I might pursue my passion for working with young people and learning yet nothing has really turned up. In the meantime I have found a good job, but is by no means something I could do long-term (out of personal preference and comfort, not ability), and it is merely holding me over (at least in my mind) until I find a steady teaching position. And it has been this job search that revealed to me a saddening truth, that I might need to uproot from the little ground I have staked here in Warsaw, IN and go elsewhere. It dawned on me that at age 29, I really have no semblance of stability in my life. I have yet to hold a job for more than a couple years and have only begun to truly involve myself in a community. Yet it is the ties I have formed thus far that sharpen my desire to remain where I am at, and finally have a reason to “settle down”. Fourth, epic Scripture smackdowns. Y’all. The Holy Spirit hits hard. Like Mike Tyson left-hook hard. Like Bruce Lee flying kick hard. Despite missing more church services than attended since the school year came to a close, God has spoken to me every time I have set foot inside my church. I have always appreciated my pastors and the way God speaks through them, but these past couple weeks have been laying it on thick.

 

Point 1: God invites me to rest

I’ve said it before, but my spirit has been experiencing a time of weariness for some time. Like I’ve just been burnt out. And then Matthew 11:28 pops up at church. /Facepalm. Like, how easy is it to forget this? To just get so caught up in life that I forget that there is literally an open invitation from God for me to crash at his place. And boy do I need rest. My current work schedule is the graveyard shift, and I’m finding it harder and harder to sleep when I get home. This is on top of working basically 7 days a week for at least 8 hours a day. Sure the money is good, but the exhaustion is not something I’m used to. And in my attempt to go cold turkey with Mountain Dew (and those who know me personally know how big of a deal this is) means I have little to fall back on in terms of energy reserves right now. So rest would be good. And this is one of the convictions I have facing, to legitimately let God take the reins while I lie down for a while. It’s so frustrating to want things so bad, and not see any visible progress take place. But perhaps this is the lesson God has for me in this time, to let go and let Him steer my life.

Point 2: Faith demands Works

James is perhaps my favorite book of the Bible, and this idea is central to what James is teaching the church. I made the decision at the end of the school year to take a break from volunteering regularly at my church, in the interest of pursuing teaching opportunities and freeing up my schedule. Ironically, the opposite has happened, as I am busier now and miserable because I’m not nearly as involved at my church. James makes the point that faith without works is dead, which can also be taken on the flipside to mean that faith with works is alive! And honestly, I felt more alive serving in my church than I do now. I’ve always been someone who thrives helping in the background, facilitating the good work done by those gifted in evangelism and presence. And having not done much service lately, has noticeably effected my livelihood. And it isn’t just the church in which I wish to serve, but my community as well. This desire is a large part of why I desire a teaching position in the community I already reside, as it would give me greater opportunity to be involved in the lives of the people here. Faith is not just about saying the right things and knowing the right things (which btw knowledge is my thing) but doing the right things. Matthew 25:31-46 is the perfect example of what this will look like come judgment day. Our faith will be proved by the lives we blessed through our service, not through our words. It is not nearly enough to wish someone well, but to give them aid as you are able. This is something God has convicted me of lately.

Point 3: God knows

Something I struggled with is uncertainty. I’m not someone who can stand not knowing something I think I should know. This is a point of great stress and anxiety in my life. Yet as I’ve recommitted myself to reading and studying Scripture, and edifying my brothers and sisters in Christ with my knowledge, I am continually blown away by how impossibly vast God is. Like immeasurably unknowable. And to think He already knows all things, this just blows my mind. And all He asks of me is faith, and through this I am justified through Christ, and sanctified through the Holy Spirit. And if God knows exactly what is ahead (see Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:25-31) and is more than capable of caring for my every need, how much more should I stop all my worrying? This points back to my conviction on faith, but even more so reveals I struggles with control. I have walked a tightrope between blind faith and utter control freak most of my adult life, and this struggle is one-sided. That is to say, I’m struggling against myself here. This is one of the tests God has given me, to surrender all control to Him so he can use me in the accomplishment of His good work (Romans 8:28).

 

Now that I’ve spent nearly 75 minutes pouring conviction into script, I need to let my heart and mind rest. Not just today, but every day. Dear readers, I encourage you to do the same. Let God holds the reins of your life, they are much safer in His hands, as they are already big enough to hold the whole world. It’s a silly thing to think that trusting God with something so small takes so much faith, but then perhaps that is the difference between accepting Christ as our Savior, and accepting him as our Lord. We must die to the self daily, put our faith into action, and let God be glorified in us and through us. Cheers and amen.

 

 

 

S.D.G.

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Cultivating the Creative Consciousness

With the school year winding down and opportunities to substitute becoming as scarce as water in the desert, I’m forced to consider what I’ll be doing with myself over the summer. Summer often presents new possibilities and a chance for more activity than colder months, but I’ve often grown complacent and content in doing the simple and mundane tasks. Rather than just do the usual, I’ve thought about what I could do to spice it up this summer. This got me thinking about the qualities I value in others and the first thing that stuck out is the creative nature of people.

You see, I’m draw to the creative expressions of other people. Artists, builders, designers, creators, inventors, writers, dancers, painters, photographers, engineers, etc. Y’all amaze me. You take something unnoticed or undervalued and breathe life into it. Perhaps I appreciate these things more because I do not have that level of talent myself. Personally, my creative talents lie in my mind’s ability to design and create using words and phrases. And I enjoy doing so! I have several story (as in novels) ideas lying around and I might, just might, work on finishing one of them this summer. But let me get back to the purpose of this post…

I want to encourage everyone, no matter what your vocation or hobby, to keep giving it your all. You are needed! You create things for others they often don’t realize they need! Even those of you who don’t create in a traditional sense, remember you are creating moments and experiences every second of every day. Life is about creating memories and every moment counts. So I encourage you all, dear readers, to be not discouraged if you feel undervalued or lacking creativity in your daily life because I assure you memories are anyone’s forte. Value each moment, treasure each interaction, and cherish those memories you create!

 

 

S.D.G.

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Surviving the Soreness of the Soul

There is an indication our body gives when we stretch its capabilities and test its limits. We generally call this “being sore”. And today, on my last free day in my otherwise busy schedule for the next three weeks, I realized this soreness is not limited to our physical bodies alone.

 

It is easy to get so caught up in life’s busy-ness that we never take a moment to sit down and consider what has been happening to us and within us. While I did not necessarily plan for this to happen, I had several days off last week from subbing and I took the opportunity to rest, reflect, and read; all things I haven’t done much of for some time. Granted, one could argue that my last four posts were all reflections, but those were merely trivial compared to the introspective soul-searching I’ve done over the past few days. This internal pilgrimage had me revisiting many of the lessons God has taught me over the past year, facing old temptations, and anchoring new knowledge to a more secure place in my life. And as I wandered through this mental landscape, I felt a heaviness deep within, one not of sorrow or pain, but of exhaustion. I had become spiritually sore, having stretched and spurred my soul to grow in ways only God could have planned, and now I finally feel the aches of this maturity. Yet it is a weight I gladly bear, for I know the fruits of this labor are eternal and good, but must also be guarded and tended to like precious life on a barren wasteland.

 

As much as I would like to divulge every detail of my journey over the past year, I am still not yet finished with my journey of self-reflection and therefore cannot begin to highlight the stops and strongholds that littered this winding path. There is much uncertainty beyond the horizon and yet I feel a fierce dedication to what lies beneath the setting sun, knowing that each new day is an opportunity for growth: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. And I readily welcome any traveler of this mortal plane who wishes to come alongside me and share their story to do so, as a life of experience has taught me that good company makes even the roughest road a smoother ride. And remember, the aches of life, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, or mental, are not merely times of unnecessary suffering but rather a sign of growth to come and maturity through experience waiting to happen. Cheers and God bless friends.

 

 

S.D.G.

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A Temporary 4th Down and Goal

I was almost tempted to walk out of the school today with my arms outstretched in a symbol of triumph. But honestly, that level of personal fanfare would have been in highly egregious taste. All things considered, this final week of this temporary substitution assignment went well. The students (well most of them) seemed disappointed that I would be done after Friday, though I wonder how many of them just weren’t friendly with the original teacher. But that really isn’t my concern, I put in a solid month in the classroom as I was asked and hopefully the students learned a thing or two. And the experience will look good on my resume and I should have a decent reference from the school in the future. Now on to the daily reflections:

 

Day 16-

In some ways I hate Mondays (as I should, being a self-proclaimed Garfieldian) but in others I look forward to them. Often, the students are more subdued because of their weekend wariness and generally less disruptive. However, I am also just as tired and can drag my feet for most of the day. I told all of my Science classes why the previous week had been so packed with activities and assignments, and many of them seems to acknowledge the reasons and accept the explanation as a form of apology for working them so hard. I still have an underlying problem of disrespect from some students, and sadly many of these students I have in more than one class. I actually busted out the “coach” voice to silence my 7th period. Many of the students seemed astonished that I could be so loud, or project my voice so well. As middle schoolers, they usually don’t realize how long they are being until you raise the volume one step further. I don’t like yelling at anyone, much less students, but sometimes you need to be a drill sergeant to get respect. The thought crossed my mind today that I might be very disappointed if I need to come back after Spring Break is over, even though that two week break would be nice either way.

Day 17-

Today was a whirlwind. I had two boys get into a scuffle (some might call it a fight, but there was little real aggression involved) during my 2nd period which quickly resulted in a bloody nose. Both boys spent the day in the office but I doubt either felt sorry for what transpired. Even if they were just goofing around, as soon as there’s blood it’s gone too far. My Science classes did an activity with sugar cubes and although they struggled to keep track of all 64 given to them per bag, I don’t believe anyone ate one. Which to be honest would have been rather disgusting because the sugar cubes have been handled by who knows how many grubby hands and picked up unknown bacteria from the table surfaces. I had a girl (one who has never show me respect and obviously doesn’t like me) mouth off to me in Math Lab, so I wrote her up and sent her to the office. Her attitude isn’t likely to change or improve, but I drew a line and she crossed it. And probably not for the last time…

Day 18-

The home stretch is within sight! With only three days left, I can feel a change in my spirit and attitude towards each class. On one hand, the students are starting to anticipate Spring Break and getting antsy and on the other, I’m ready to get back to the crazy life of a day-to-day sub. Most of the classes this week have been fairly low-key and the Science classes are keeping pace with the content I had planned for the week. I’ve hung the “carrot” of a fun day on Friday to encourage them to stay focused on taking notes and completing their work, but there are still students falling behind on their homework. My PLTW class is been very enjoyable to teach and so far I have been impressed with their Invention presentations. One student is a little behind but he also missed the first day the class had to work on their presentations. The Math Labs are basically a study hall as the new students only received their logins today and the rest of the students have kinda burnt out. As long as they are doing something productive and not running around the room like animals, I’m content to play monitor. This also gives me extra time to grade and even read. Since grading and planning have been minimal for this week, I should be able to wrap up the week pretty quick. I’ve warned the students that any missing work not turned in before Spring Break could result in a zero, but what I didn’t tell them is that not doing the work would also mean they’d miss out on the “Funday” Friday. And to be honest, I don’t want to leave a lot of missing work for the returning teacher to track down as soon as she returns after Spring Break.

Day 19-

In most of my classes, today was the final day of actual instruction, except PLTW. Tomorrow will just be a fun day and I told students to feel free to bring in snacks or card games to play. I decided to make Friday a fun day partially because it will be my final day as their temporary sub and also it’ll be Spring Break and I really didn’t feel like planning another lesson. I really this makes me a little lazy but with all the late and missing work to track down, that gives me enough to worry about. It’s basically like pulling teeth with some of these students because, despite giving them the equivalent of lunch detention for more than one day, they still haven’t turned in much of their missing work. I’ve already written up one student for failing to do his homework and will probably write up a couple more before I leave the school tomorrow. I’m actually starting to look forward to not worrying about grading and missing work, as well as no longer having to deal with some of the poor attitudes and lack of responsibility some of these students have displayed.

Day 20-

Last day, last day, last day! As today is a “Fun day Friday”, I literally sat at my desk and read my book while students played card games or on laptops. Any student who had late work got sent to the library to work on it, and this realization seemed to motivate many of them to actually do the assignments. A couple students still dragged their feet and accomplished almost nothing, and these are the same students who have given me headaches the entirety of this temporary assignment. At least I can say I tried to get these students to do their homework but ultimately it is not my responsibility to make them do it. If they want to be defiant, then they must accept the consequence of a failing grade. I made use of my extra time to do all my grading and got the returning teacher caught up with each class’ progress and highlighted any special considerations (such as students who might give her trouble after Spring Break) before turning in my keys and leaving the building. The weather outside was absolutely perfect and matched the warm feeling I had walking away from what proved a challenging but enjoyable experience.

 

Well that wraps it up, unless something drastic happens to the returning teacher in the next two weeks that prevents her from returning and I’ll need to step back in. I’m praying that won’t happen, but I guess if it does then you lovely folks will get a bonus round! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these reflections, and if this is the first of my posts you’ve read feel free to check out some of the older posts as well. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

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Third Times the (Temporary) Charm

Week three has come and gone, and I’d be lying if I’m didn’t say I’m glad I’m reaching the end of this assignment. It’s been hard trying to integrate myself into a school environment nearly 3/4 of the way through an academic year, and the students’ attitude towards me kinda reflects that. Many of the students warmed up to me after a week or so, but the “problem” students almost got worse, and certainly didn’t really improve much. There’s a whole lot I could talk about here, that would expand way beyond the school environment as a whole, so I feel it is fair to say that I have nothing against this school, its students, or the environment, but rather that I wish to recognize how difficult the circumstances surrounding this assignment has been for me to really establish myself in the classroom and with my students. It also doesn’t help that Daylight Savings Time now forces me to wake up when it’s still dark out, and I definitely start out each day pretty glum. But on to the daily reflections:

Day 11-

Today was the start of a new quarter, which means changes in some classes and a “clean slate” for many students. The overall downside to this period of transition is that my 7th grade Math Lab class got even bigger, and most of the students they added have already given me headaches in other classes. It only compounds the control issues I have with this class that the new students do not have access to the online program they are supposed to be using for this remedial math class, which means it’s basically a study hall. I’m about to blitz a mini-unit on fossils and dating the earth’s layers to finish out our Earth Science portion of Science 7 in order to take the Acuity test at the end of the week, which is honestly a lot to try to do for the start of a new quarter. But honestly, the only way I can see to maintain control in any of my classes is to constantly have work for them to do. I am excited to be teaching a new Project Lead The Way class, which is basically Intro to Engineering for 7th grade, because I’ll be learning just as much as most of the students. Hopefully this week isn’t as taxing as it appears it might be.

Day 12- 

I honestly have nothing new to say that hasn’t been beaten into the ground. Dealing with disrespectful students and poor attitudes has just become routine at this point, and I’m starting to count the days until Spring Break. There are a couple students who constantly toe the line of being sent to the office, and I might just have to make it their new home for the last week, because they do practically nothing productive in my class. Again I’m reminded how difficult a situation I was thrown into at the start of this assignment, and I’m honestly just doing all I can to teach the students who want to learn and ignore those who don’t care anymore.

Day 13-

Today was probably the worst day I have had so far of this assignment. Not only did I have a headache all day, but certain students seemed to be doing everything they could to only increase my discomfort. Science and PLTW are going fine, but the Math Labs are almost pointless. Students don’t want to work and those who are have about hit the ceiling of their ability anyway. I sent one student to the office today because we watched an educational video explaining a key concept to the day’s lesson, during which he was obviously not paying attention and goofing off, and, after it finished, was very disrespectful when I tried to get feedback from the class. To be honest, he got the short end of the stick because I was already tired from my headache, a lack of sleep, and the previous period, but his behavior was still uncalled for and very disruptive. I feel very out of place in my desire to explain to some of these students why their behavior is uncalled for because most of them haven’t been shown differently and they already lack the respect necessary for my authority for that explanation to have much of an impact.

Day 14-

Today I was just sore, and wanted a break. I did a review trivia game with my Science classes to help them get ready for the Acuity test, which is always a highlight for me because I love trivia and competition always seems to get kids interested in the activity. The students seemed to like the competitive nature of the review, so as far as the classes go, today went pretty well. But come the end of the day I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I actually put off any grading because I just wanted to go home and rest. This assignment as given me valuable experience for being a full-time teacher, and a greater appreciation for building relationships with the students from the first week.

Day 15- 

If I’ve said it before then I don’t want to say it again. So the sparknotes of today are as follows: Math Labs were just a period to get through, Science was all about the Acuity test, and PLTW was a project workday. This meant I had plenty of time to work on catching up on grading, so I was able to leave the school at a pretty decent time. Plus Fridays are a tad shorter, so the only work I had to do was get my lesson plans for Monday ready and I was home free for the weekend. However I had an incredibly frustrating situation occur during my 4th period Science class (which if you’ve been reading these reflections you’d know this is the largest class I have). I caught two male students, who sit in the corner, working on something other than the Acuity test while they were “taking” the test. This honestly could’ve been grounds for cheating, as I told each class that I should see only two tabs on their laptops, music and the test. Yet these two boys decided whatever else they were doing was more important than the Acuity test and I about lost it. I confronted them and they seemed to have no idea why I has upset. I reported the incident to the Jr High counselor, so it’s no longer in my hands but still I struggle to find any logical reason behind why these students thought what they were doing was acceptable.

 

So three weeks down, and one to go. And this week I earn a full-time teacher’s salary! My bank account will be happy haha. I apologize to those of you who looked for this post yesterday but I just needed 24 hours to unwind before reflecting on everything that happened in the classroom this week. Hopefully next week goes better and I receive the good news from the teacher I am covering for that she will indeed be back after Spring Break, which she should know on Monday. And in all things, dear reader, I hope this has been as entertaining for you to read as it is therapeutic for me to write. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

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