Tag Archives: learning

Life Through the Lens of a Decade

As it has been my habit for the past few years, the time has come for my year end/birthday reflection post. And since this year happens to be the beginning of a new decade of my life (I’m turning 30, if you weren’t aware), I thought I should look back at each of the previous decades of my life and highlight the primary lesson or focus from each. Let me preface that I have no idea how rambling or full of rabbit trails this might get, so continue at your own risk 😉

 

First Decade: Learning

One of my first lasting memories was of desiring to know. Tasting this, grabbing that, smelling this; I had to find out more. It’s not uncommon for parents to claim their child was inquisitive but I didn’t just want to know “why” but I needed to know “how”. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that I could learn much faster on my own than asking someone else. So I read and read and read. And learned. But it wasn’t just reading. I built and played and created. Legos were also a key part of my growth. My brothers and I would create elaborate castles and towns and ships, each with its own narrative. Creating stories was just as important to me as reading them. I think that’s part of why I write today, it’s how I learned to create. But back to reading. I gobbled up everything I could get my hands on, and then some. I started reading harder and harder books, with bigger words and higher difficulty. By the time I passed into the second decade of my life, I was reading at least four grade levels above my age. I’m not trying to brag too much, but I was reading at a college level by junior high. Needless to say, reading was how I learned to feed my appetite for information. And I had to use this knowledge to create an identity that allowed me to make sense of a world that didn’t really understand me.

 

Second Decade: Soccer

If anyone close to me was asked what my favorite sport was, I’d imagine they’d answer soccer with little hesitation. And my love for this sport was found almost comically, because I grew up in a traditional Hoosier farm town where football and basketball were king. But football, being a fall sport like soccer, was an expensive venture, so my parents decided I should try the cheaper alternative instead. Turns out, I was really good at it. A natural almost. In fact, one of my earliest memories of playing soccer was having a coach tell me to only use my right foot like everyone else in swarm league because dribbling the ball with my left let me separate from the crowd of players and score many times. And some of my fondest memories from my middle school years revolve around playing soccer. It was something I could be recognized for and made me more than just “that smart kid”. Because honestly, I sometimes hated the fact that I was so much smarter than kids my age. They gave me weird looks because I knew all the answers and probably showed them up in class on numerous occasions. But soccer, soccer allowed me to be “one of the guys”. Let me belong. Let me put my knowledge of the game to use for the benefit of my teammates. And as my skill developed on the field, so did my involvement off it. In high school I started watching professional soccer in earnest and even began refereeing on occasion. My biggest regret when it comes to pursuing my love of soccer is that I never made an effort to play competitively in college, a decision that still haunts me today. In some ways, I wonder how different I would have been as a person had I made that leap of faith and invested in that opportunity. But my passion has persisted and grown as the years went on, giving me a place within a world I didn’t always understand.

 

Third Decade: Community

When it comes to the scale of introversion, you’d find me somewhere on the anti-social hermit end. Well, at least that’s where I’d be if I choose my spot, but mostly out of personal jest. Because if my readers might remember, being social is something that is not a natural skill for me. People both fascinate and frustrate me to no end. In an average social situation, I’m prone to observe rather than interact, even more so if it’s unfamiliar territory or with a large number of strangers. That said, it takes me awhile to “warm up” to people. So while finding a place in society through soccer as the foundation of my social interaction (outside of church and school) during my second decade of life, I struggled greatly to find a foundation during the earlier years of my third decade. College was turbulent, but I managed to find a small group of people who accepted me. But after college, I lost a lot of social motivation and entered my “hermit stage”. It took me a couple years to overcome these tendencies, largely through personal discovery and healing of old wounds. So I tried to put myself into situations that would force me to get to know people and expose myself to social environments. I also struggled to find an identity as a member of society, as a steady job wasn’t forthcoming. After school, I wasn’t sure what I would do and what I thought I wanted to do wasn’t working out at the time. My breakthrough, oddly enough, didn’t come through a social opportunity, but through a personal understanding. Before I could find my place in society, I had to find myself. It might sound cheesy, but I studied mental patterns, cognitive functions, personality theories, and sociology to better understand why I operated the way I did within society. Why I chose to stand in the corner rather than join the circle. Why I would rather be the guy in the background making sure things ran smoothly than the one leading from the front. Perhaps the biggest piece of realization that helped me move forward was to understand that my mind how processes information prioritizes facts and rational data over emotions and personal connections. There was a brief period that I honestly thought I was broken. But once I started to understand myself and my natural patterns of thought and social cognition, I was able to approach people in a way that wasn’t nearly as awkward and blunt as I was before. And I learned to be a friend to people. To put my knowledge and talents to work for others. I became a coach for my old junior high and started reffing again for local recreational and travel leagues. I started serving in my church, putting my natural desire to work in the background towards a noble purpose. And I took steps to realize my dream of becoming a teacher and got back into the classroom as a sub. And last and perhaps the most important, I joined a couple different groups of young adults who desired community just as much as I did. It’s amazing how friendships can start when perfect strangers all wish to have others to do life together with. And while I’m not someone who compulsively feels the need to have many close personal connections with others, I found that deep within these relationships were greatly important to my development and purpose in life. So despite myself and certain sociopath tendencies, I not only wanted to create these relationships but I wanted to make sure others didn’t have to struggle as hard as I did to find them or arrive at a place where they realized how lonely life would be without them. And going forward, I hope that the communities I’ve found will continue to grow and mature and become something truly impactful on the lives of everyone involved.

 

Three decades, three core components. And looking back, I can see how one decade has helped support those that followed. I can only hope that this trend continues rather than a collapse after an imbalance arises from mismatching interests or pursuits. For now, I’m content to look ahead with anticipation of what the future holds and acceptance of the lessons my past has taught me. And since this new decade might be the best one yet, I invite you, dear readers, to join me as I continue to discover what this journey known as life might entail.

 

 

S.D.G.

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Secondary Minutes in the Life of a Temp

I can honestly say there’s a noticeable difference between how last week and this week has gone. Not only is the daily schedule fairly normalized as ISTEP testing is all but over, but also that many of the students have accepted me as their new teacher for the next few weeks. It goes without saying that some students are still a handful, but at least I’m in a better place to handle those disruptions now than I was last week. So on to the day by day!

Day 6-

I just realized that this week the dates actually coincide with the number of days I have been on this assignment. Crazy huh? As far as Monday’s go, today wasn’t too bad, but some students are really toeing the line with me. I decided to try to entice my Math Labs to work harder by offering them a reward if they can maintain a good average for learning across the week, so we’ll see if that actually worked or not. Things do feel a little subdued at the school today, which could either be due to it being the final day of ISTEP for 7th grade or just because it’s the beginning of a new week. It’d be nice if this level of lethargy sticks around for the rest of the week , but that’s probably wishful thinking haha.

Day 7-

Still can’t quite get over the fact that the days line up the way they do, maybe it just appeals to my peculiar sense of number structures. Sadly, this thought was about the only entertaining thing about my day. I officially put my foot down in my science classes, basically telling them to “sit down, settle down, and shut up”. In general, each class has a few students who struggle to contain their talkativeness and end up carrying on conversations while I am trying to teach, which is extremely disrespectful and disruptive. I told every class that this little speech I gave was their final warning and if I had to stop class to reprimand them for being disruptive, it’d be a write-up. If they continued such behavior after this, they’d go to the office. To be honest, the fact that some students haven’t already been sent to the office already shows a great deal of leniency on my part. I really don’t want to send students to the office, especially on days I’m covering new material, but I’m also certainly not afraid to start writing up students who still don’t handle themselves in a proper manner.

Day 8-

Well I definitely called it. Sent one student to the office today and wrote up another for talking. These two students, in particular, fall into a category of students that are self-absorbed and not very socially conscious of their behavior and honestly I hope they learn something from my time at this school because I’ll probably be pretty hard on them from time to time. It might be tough love, but I do believe I’m doing it for their ultimate good. Overall however, most of the students seem to have responded positively to my speech yesterday and are much better behaved and respectful to classroom operations. Another problem I’m facing now is a host of students who have missing or late work. I’m not entirely sure how this school handles such situations, but I need to find out so I can get those grades in before the window closes for the nine weeks. Several students will have lunch detention in order to get those assignments done, but I just need to figure out who to notify about that. I also need to find more ways to accommodate for students with special needs and/or learning disabilities, but I have almost no information to work with there. It’s easy to forget how hastily I was brought into this position and in many ways I’m playing a lot of catch-up when it comes to school policies and operations. Thankfully, the teacher I am covering for is very organized with her lesson plans, so the content really is the least of my worries.

Day 9-

Today was super laid-back because many of the Jr High was gone on a reward trip for keeping up with their homework and grades. However that did mean the students left behind were usually the “difficult” ones to begin with. But because I had significantly less students in every class, I was able to focus on certain students and get to know some of them a little better, which hopefully helps build respect between myself and the students in general. My math labs are barely short of meeting their goal for the week and earning the reward (donuts for my morning class and cookies for the afternoon). My planning for the end of the Earth Science super-unit is taking shape and I just need to setup a time for the students to take the Earth Science Acuity test, most likely next Friday. But before that, I need to teach them about fossils, which I find to be a very dated topic…

Day 10-

I was really glad today is the end of the week and that classes are just a little shorter. Not only was I up late last night for a “skype date” but also I need a break from some of these students. Especially the ones in my 7th grade Math Lab, I mean I had to write-up one girl for hitting another student on top of the head, one boy for always antagonizing other students into creating disruptions, and a third for throwing pencils and paper across the room. I hate to put it this way, but I barely tolerated being at school tonight because I was heading out of town to see my brothers (and their wives) this weekend. It’s always meaningful for me to see my brothers, because in many ways they understand me better than anyone else I know, including most of my friends. My Science classes did a practice test over the unit we just completed, and the only reason I didn’t collect it for a grade is because I did NOT want to do any grading this weekend. Not that I wouldn’t have the time, but I just didn’t want to do anything school related for a couple days. That said, I might go in on Sunday to put the finishing touches on my lesson plans for my fossils mini-unit, but I might just need a nap instead haha.

 

Well folks, two weeks down in this assignment, and probably two more to go. The teacher I’m covering for is hopefully she’ll be able to come back a couple days before the school lets out for spring break (which is two weeks long!) but even if she did, I’d probably stay and teach for those last couple days (cuz I’m poor and that last week I’ll be on full-time teacher pay!). Thanks again for reading along and if you are the praying sort, I’d certainly appreciate some! Cheers and God bless!

 

 

S.D.G.

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