Tag Archives: challenges

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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Whispered Confessions on the Winds of Change

Fall has always been my favorite season and for many reasons. First, humidity dies out and the mosquito population with it. Second, I have legitimate reason to wear my hoodies again. Third, it signals the transition to winter with the beautiful browns, radiant reds, and ornamental oranges falling from the abundance of trees. And finally, fall is the season for soccer!

Soccer has been a passion, nay an obsession, ever since I began playing at a young age. Having played all through grade school, into high school, sporadically in college (one of my biggest regrets in life was never playing inter-collegiate soccer), and even now in adult recreational leagues, I have made it a point to participate in soccer in some form. I have also taken a coaching role at my old high school for the Jr High squad and thoroughly enjoy it. One of the next steps in my pursuit in my love of the game is to obtain my referee’s license over the winter months. Despite the fall soccer season nearing it’s end, I have plenty of soccer related ventures planned. Not only do I religiously (literally, I have intentionally skipped church to watch matches, yeah I know, probably not the best habit to form) follow the EPL (English Premier League) and MLS (Major League Soccer) but I also keep tabs on international matches and inter-league tournaments such as the CONCAF Champions (Google it) and EUFA Champions Leagues. I’m even going to see a Semi-Professional match in the next couple weeks. So where am I going with this? Good question and here’s what I got…

The busier I get, the less melancholy I find myself to be. Yet as my responsibilities for the present will soon become less as soccer seasons draw to a close, both as a coach and a player, I will now have extra free time. “Free Time” for me often becomes periods of unproductive-ness, leaving me feel as though I am accomplishing nothing. However this time is never “wasted” as I can easily fill it with various forms of entertainment, what really bothers me is the solitude it often leads to. As I slowly approach the turning of a new page in my life, that being the re-education necessary to obtain my teacher’s license, I feel the need to come clean.

Over the summer, I have developed a couple destructive tendencies. First, the excessive busy-ness brought about by multiple work and personal responsibilities; and second, the elevation of my love for soccer above the spiritual well-being of my person. Let me address my tendency to take on more responsibilities than are likely healthy. I am, by default, a challenge-seeker. I am more motivated to succeed the higher the stakes and often draw from my competitive nature to push myself to overcome obstacles. I have a mindset to pursue responsibility in order to avoid mediocrity and in doing so only bring about a swelling tension between my will to achieve and my contentment with my life. If you were to ask me what my primary goal(s) in life is I would answer as such: to live simply and contentedly, owing no debts, and loving all who cross my path. Yet I find myself lapsing into stages of melancholy if I am not constantly engaged, and it leads me to wonder if this is the result of having little purpose behind my actions beyond just following through on the responsibilities I have procured.

I am a little ashamed to say I have recently been putting my love of soccer above my need for spiritual enrichment. Examples include skipping church to watch EPL matches, skipping my men’s group to play matches for the recreational league I’m in, and studying team tactics for soccer over reading my Bible. It is fairly easy to admit at this point that much of my self-worth coming from the enjoyment I pull from my soccer-related activities and less from my relationship with my Creator. Yet here I am addressing it, intentionally drawing it into the light were I face ridicule and criticism. Do I fear the result? Perhaps a little, but what I fear more is the depression that partners with keeping it all contained inside. So I readily accept my fate as a “bad” Christian, but all the more do I commit myself to another challenge: to find a way to reconcile my passion for the game with my relationship to my Savior and the place in the community around me. I guess what I truly need is less responsibility and more in-my-face encounters with my faith, for it is a challenge I will rise to the occasion to complete…

 

S.D.G.

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Smoke and Mirrors

According to my grand opener(s) to this year of potential blogging, I decided I would put myself out there more and be a more open person. A subject that has been on my mind the past week or so is that of illusions of character, or in layman’s terms, letting others believe something that is not necessarily true about who you are. While many of my friends consider me to be a genuine person, this is only true in part. So I shall set forth to debunk what I believe to be my three largest illusions of character (in no significant order of importance).

The Illusion of Emotional Sensitivity

I consider myself to be very good at reading people’s emotional state. Some people would find this astonishing but the honest truth is one of shallow proportions. While I am able to discern how or what a person is feeling, I am usually at a loss as to the why or what that means. I myself am not an emotional person, at least not outwardly. I have practiced (and near perfected) containing any emotion I feel might be detrimental to those around me.  This practice only adds to the calm demeanor I put out. While I might be fairly open about this fact, it still does not change how I perceive and react to the emotions of those around me. I would also go so far as to theorize that this inability to comprehend the depth of the emotions felt by those around hinders my ability to cultivate relationship, especially with those of the female persuasion.  So yes, I am just another clueless guy even if I can tell something is bothering you.

The Illusion of Maturity

Contrary to what many people around me might believe, I do not consider myself to be a very mature person. In all honesty, I see myself as a some bizarre man-child that has the responsibilities of an adult but the whimsical nature of a four year old. Let me explain: growing up I was heralded as one of the most mature among my peers however I now feel like this was due to my unusual level of wisdom due to my intellect and rational outlook than it was to the state of my maturity. As soon as I obtained some freedom the true level of my maturity shown through as I made bad decisions one after another. I was reckless, stubborn, and selfish. I would like to think that over the past five years or so I have “grown up” considerably but I feel as though I have only just accepted the responsibilities of my age. This is not to say I am immature, but I would rather dispel any notions that my wisdom and intellectual abilities should make me a more mature person than I truly am.

The Illusion of Isolation

As an introvert, I have no issues with being alone. Often I enjoy the solace of having my thoughts to myself. This nature has drawn me to the profession I currently hold. My family and closest friends have a fairly good idea of who I am, but even then the surface has only been scratched. It is a social paradox for I am not comfortable leaving my personal bubble without ulterior motive yet I desire to be a friendly and involved person. Rarely will I turn down an invitation unless unable, yet I have few outlets in which I feel included or involved. Perhaps my shell has hardened to a point that it is not isolation I face but insecurity. Unsure if I can truly relate in a world not forgiving of those without social grace. Yet here I am; socially awkward, introverted, and lonely. This is a loneliness not filled by family or friends but by new experiences, new faces, and new memories.

So what have I learned? I need to speak more with my mouth (since that’s what most people are able to understand) and carry a pin to pop my bubble whenever necessary. Yet the baggage of my immature decisions in the past act as a chain around my neck that I must break link by link. As the weight is lessened, the freedom that will follow might just set me free to be something more than which I currently am. And to that end I strive onward…

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