Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"That's Wonderful!"

This changed my life, in a moment of life changes.

Steven A. Cramer(LDS Author) tells a story about an individual trying to pick their life up after a myriad of self inflicted difficulties  This individual, during their repentance process, returns home only to be rejected and turned away.

Mr. Cramer was this individuals friend and confidant, he recalls the situation.

       "I had no idea what I could say that would ease [their] pain and give [them] the courage to continue forward with [their] repentance. But suddenly I heard words coming out of my mouth that I would never have dared to say on my own.
       "That's wonderful," I said. "I know it must have hurt you deeply, but I'm glad [they did] that to you."
       He was stunned. So was I.
       Silently and desperately I prayed, "Father, I don't understand. Why was it wonderful? Why did you put those words in my mouth?"
       The Lord gave me an answer that become, for my friend and me, a sacred learning experience.
       "It is wonderful," I heard myself say, "Because you now have a tiny taste of the pain and rejection Jesus Christ suffered. And because you have glimpsed this small portion of his infinite sorrow, you can have a bond of fellowship that will draw you to him with a special love and devotion."

Tears came to my eyes when I read this. It made so much sense to me. I realized I never understood why the Atonement could bring me comfort. I knew it had in the past but now I could understand why.

The Atonement doesn't remove the pain, sorrow, trial, aching, suffering, etc. etc., but instead brings us closer to our Savior Jesus Christ. On a more intimate level. So I realized something, my main goal, the one that drives my every day decisions in life, is to live again with my Father in Heaven. Exalted. And to do that I need to become more like my Savior. And if I come to know him better, the easier it will be to be like him. So, therefore would I not be grateful for opportunities that can strengthen my 'bond of fellowship' with him? 

Neal A Maxwell taught that patience is "a willingness... to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe-- rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstances." (Ensign, October, 1980)

I believe this all to be true. I've applied it. I've felt the comfort that comes from knowing that Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer, has not only felt the pain I'm feeling but overcome it. And that with him I do not have to go the path alone. Because, he too has felt as I feel. Only worse.

I don't know everything. In fact I know very little. But what I do know is this. God is marvelous. And we have a Savior. Not just a Savior to save us from physical death and provide us a resurrection. But one that saves us everyday. From the small pains and the great sorrows. One that saves us from ourselves. Keeping us from becoming our own worst enemies. Aren't we all our worst critics?

Thank goodness for faith. Thank goodness for courage. Thank goodness for humility. Thank goodness for pain. Thank goodness for trials. Thank goodness for an Atonement.  

Dear Father,

Don't ever let me forget this principle. Please!

-Your daughter.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Student Teaching Tid Bits: British Accents and laziness

Welcome to Student Teaching Tid Bits. 
This is where I will do my best to document that which is my experience of being a student while also being a teacher... a bit of a paradox. Want to come along with me through my experience of Student Teaching? Well if you don't then choose not to read.

Well I'm down to my final week of student teaching. Sure I've learned a lot of history. And a lot of kids names. But what I've really learned is why I'm bound to be good in this profession. These kids mean a lot to me. Sure I cannot do much. I only see them a few hours a day. But this past week has shown me how much just showing you care can change a persons behavior

example 1: One student decided to share casually that he loves to drink wine. And that maybe he drinks a bit too much. Well he comes in after school one day to get an assignment to make up because his dad is harping on him to get his work in. He walks in and says "Hello!" In a British accent. I reply "Hi there!" He says "Oh no no no, where is the British accent?" So we continue to speak in a British accent while he's waiting. In this time he shares that his grades have gone from a 3.5 to a 2.5. I ask him if he thinks the wine intake as anything to do with it. His father is from France so it's a custom to drink it with dinner. But he's been drinking it a bit more. I told him to be careful. He then shares with me that he just moved here in July with his dad and the rest of his family is back east. I said "Now, that's the reason you have a 2.5. Not the wine. That's also just a product. He said, "Yeah i know. But my dad just doesn't get it."

He quickly left after that. But the next day in class he was more focused than he'd been all year. I saw an immediate change in him. Because at the base of this job, I really just care about these students progressing. I want them to learn good skills that will help them be successful and progress in the world.

Because Progress= Happiness, right? 

example 2: Another student, very lazy. Getting a low grade because he just doesn't turn in his work. He happened to come to class after school because he forgot something. I took an opportunity to talk to him. We talked about how he's always getting in trouble and distracted. He said it's the same for all his classes. I asked him how I could help him in this class. We decided I should make sure he knows what's expected.

The next class period, sure after he fell asleep. I was walking past and he said "Okay, what do I need to do to accomplish this?" 

There are a few more examples of moments when I show interest in the students and they suddenly light up. They react. They respect me far more. They participate. They do better on the work and their tests. It's awesome to see. 

I'm not trying to boast, saying how great I am. I do a lot of things wrong. Like yell at students in class. But I then feel so awful, so I make it my goal to apologize and explain myself. Again, after doing this, I find the students are more respectful of me and willing to work. And for high school kids, respect is not always the first thing on their mind.

I don't expect to change the world. I don't expect these students to internalize all that I'm teaching them. But my goal has always been to create a safe environment so they can learn, and hopefully leave my class with skills that will help them be more successful. I'm just glad that even though my lessons aren't always brilliant  and I don't always discipline like I should, and I don't always know all the answers, that at least I am doing one thing right. I love these kids. I can't help it. 

I've been told I'm not very good at being sympathetic and nurturing, I know this to be true in some instances. But you know what I am good at? Caring about people and loving them. I can tell when people aren't living up to their potential and all I want to do is encourage them. Once I know they have a desire to change, I will never give up on them. 

So if I never get married and I get to be a full time teacher the rest of my life... well I think I'll be pretty proud and happy with how I spend my time.

I'm so thankful the Lord has lead me here. My paths are always a bit crazy. I experience a lot of road blocks in life. What I want and work so hard for never really comes to fruition, but luckily I find the Lord was preparing me for something much better for me. Maybe not what I wanted, but always what I need.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Student Teaching Tid Bits: Parent Teacher Conference

Welcome to Student Teaching Tid Bits. 
This is where I will do my best to document that which is my experience of being a student while also being a teacher... a bit of a paradox. Want to come along with me through my experience of Student Teaching? Well if you don't then choose not to read.

I had parent teacher conference this week. I'll be honest. I kind of enjoyed it. No! I did not enjoy staying at school till 7:30 for two nights in a row. Especially on a week when I come down with an awful cold and need to be in bed. However, I enjoy meeting people so I liked meeting parents and talking about their students. I almost, almost knew all of the names of the students that came. I saw maybe 10-15% of them though. A few who are struggling. Here are a few things I noticed.

Parents just want to hear how awesome their kids are. So even if they're not awesome. Tell them they are.
Students, also like hearing how awesome they are. This one is very important. I saw improvements in behavior for a few of my students that struggle a bit in class. I just said how much I enjoyed having them and TA DA! They were better behaved in class. Now, it might not be lasting but here's hoping. I need to do better at building my classes up. Even if I don't like them. They need to think that I do. This isn't a new idea, knowing how you're viewed by someone leads you to want to be that way.

Gospel correlation. Our Father in Heaven tells us we're his children. The more we know this and understand it and believe it, the more we become what he sees us to be. His children. With his qualities. I know God to be loving and kind. Yes firm when need be, but never to a point of him no longer believing in our ability to be successful in becoming what he knows we can become. 

I don't expect all the students I ever teach to become Nobel Prize winners. What I do expect, is that I can be able to teach and encourage them to learn in a way that will help them feel progression and successful. That'll mean different results for each student. But those were my best experiences in education, times when I could see and notice my progression. 

So for me. Parent teacher conference was a good thing. I'm not saying I'll always feel this way. But for my first one. It was good.

Oh and it wasn't so awful hearing a few parents say "Well, this was the one table we had to come to. She/He loves this class and both of you." Yes that put a smile on my face.