A Year in Kindergarten

It is August. I look around my classroom. The floors are clean and shiny, the crayons are perfectly in order, every toy and game piece and manipulative is in its place.  The chairs are pushed in, the computers are working, and the bulletin boards look beautiful. It is peaceful and quiet and organized.

Somehow a miracle happened the day before. In between faculty meetings, grade level meetings, meeting with parents in person who couldn’t make it to orientation night, and taking phone calls from parents who forgot to tell me about this allergy or that behavior issue, I actually finished my day’s list (I found this list the other day in my August folder…this was actually a to-do list to get done in one day).

list

My room is ready, but am I ready? This was my twelfth year to teach Kindergarten and I still woke up on the first day of school with butterflies in my stomach. 

God has called me to be a teacher, and He will equip me to be a teacher. 

He will help me teach 20 kids where the restrooms are; what the difference is between a boys’ restroom and a girls’ restroom; why boys and girls don’t use the same restroom. He will help me keep up with 20 kids when they all need to go to the bathroom at the same time; when they don’t know if they have snack, lunch, or snack and lunch in their lunchboxes. He will help me when they don’t know where their bus is, and there are 25 buses to choose from in 100 degree weather. And when all of these issues are settled, He will help me teach them to read, write, sing, count, and understand numbers!

It is the end of the first day of kindergarten. I look around my classroom. The floors are scuffed and marked…and did someone REALLY write their name on the floor on the first day of school?Really!?! How was I not looking?!? The red crayons (I only give one crayon on the first day—“until we get used to using them” I say…and we must not be used to it yet–I mean,  someone wrote on the floor and all…) are broken, missing their paper labels, and they are not all in the crayon pouches like we practiced. There are toys, game pieces, and manipulatives on my table that were “found” and for the life of me, I don’t know where their place is. Even if I did know where to put them, I’m not sure I can get up from this kid-sized chair I’m in. My teaching table is covered with registration papers, last minute notes from parents, a lunchroom checklist, First Day of School pictures checklist, and my bus chart.  Though the room is quiet, my ears seem to be ringing with the noise and activity that happened just a few moments earlier. 

And we start over again tomorrow. 

Can I do this?!? Why am I doing it?

Oh, yes. It’s those kids. The 20 boys and girls that I love already. The ones who already love me, even though some of them don’t yet like me. To some children, I’m the one who is making them sit a certain way, walk a certain way, and talk in a certain way for the first time–even if they don’t want to! We usually start school on a Thursday in my county, and the kindergarten teachers always notice that on Thursday and Friday our sweet little ones come skipping down the halls with a bright smile on their faces, ready for some school fun. But on Monday…well, on Monday, the honeymoon is over. They realize that this school thing is permanent, at least for the next 10 months, and we see lots of tears.

Eventually, the tears subside and the summer gradually fades into the crisp, colorful days of autumn. Both the students and I fall into a new school year, a new routine, and a wonderful relationship that I cherish from then on. Kindergarten students are, for the most part, quick learners. They learn SO much in a short year. I see kids that come into my room who don’t know how to hold a pencil, sit in a chair, sit “criss-cross applesauce” (they look like a pretzel the first few tries), and walk in a line. I see kids who don’t know how to count, read letters, and sometimes I see kids who don’t know what their name is. Sadly, I see kids who don’t know how to accept a hug or a high five. I see kids who don’t know how to show love. By the end of the year, I need to have taught these little ones to write correctly, read fluently, understand addition and subtraction, and to have self-control in any situation.

What a big responsibility this is. It is overwhelming and it is an honor. 

God has called me to do this, and He is equipping me to do this.

The autumn season is a fun season. We learn about change and leaves and community helpers. We learn about letters, sounds, and sight words. We learn about counting and number sense. And then a few things happen that send a little stress each kindergarten teacher’s way. We do our first report card. We have parent-teacher conference day. We sometimes have an open house. We do fall festivals. And we do that thing called Dress Up for Halloween and Get Candy and Cupcakes and Goody Bags But Still Have a Normal Day of Instruction. It’s the teacher’s “favorite”. 🙂

By Christmas break, my kiddos and I have our routine down pat. I am a very routine-oriented teacher, so they become the same. We learn about Christmas around the world, and we celebrate together in our own special way. We’ve gotten so used to each other that I really miss them over Christmas break, and I’d venture to say they miss me too!

In the early days of cold and frosty January, they come back and I am waiting at the door. Something happens to kindergarteners over Christmas break. Teachers sometimes call it Christmas Magic. The kids come back and they are more mature, somehow more thoughtful, and even more eager to learn. We get the privilege and the joy of seeing the “light come on” for so many kids this time of year. And it is truly a joy and privilege to witness.

By the time we have celebrated the one hundredth day of school, passed out valentines and shamrocks, and hunted eggs, we are all pros, kids and teachers alike!

The end of the school year is a blur of springtime fun. Kite day, Field day, Fun day, and Game day are the highlight of most kids’ school year. They are having so much fun that some of them are surprised when the year suddenly comes to the end. Sometimes we have kindergarteners that cry on the last day of school when they realize that they are not coming back to this classroom again as a student.

And now, it’s the end.

It is the end of the last day of school. The floors are scuffed and marked, though the kids and I swept well. There are a few game pieces and toys still hanging around that don’t have a place, and for the life of me, I can’t think of where they go. The crayons have all been sent home. My teaching table is covered with flowers, gifts, and notes written by my sweet kindergarten friends, in their special spelling, telling me they love me and that they hope I have a good summer. Telling me that they thought I was a good teacher. Telling me they will miss me.

card

It is still and quiet, but my heart is still singing with the happy noise and chatter from the year that happened in this very special place. 

And then I cry. 

I cry because I miss them already. I miss their sweet smiles, their loud singing and laughing, their happiness, the way they need me, and their love. I miss their “fun-ness” and their jokes and their voices.

A few years ago, I realized that when I kept telling others that I loved kindergarten, I wasn’t always being 100 percent honest. I was reading 1 Corinthians 13, and I saw a list about love. “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.” (13: 4-7) 

If this is love, did I really love being a teacher? Was I really showing love to my kids all the time at school? For that matter, was I showing love with my personal kids, my husband, friends, and in my Christian walk? This was, and still is, a set of verses that constantly challenges and inspires me to love the way that Jesus loves me. There are days when it is REALLY hard to show this kind of love. When kids aren’t being nice, when pressure is building because of test scores, when parents are unhappy. 

But God has called me to love, and He will equip me to do it.

If you are a student of mine now or in years past, know that Mrs. Givens loves you. I have high hopes for you all. I thank God, and I thank your parents and you for making my job such a joy and honor each year.

And to my current kiddos, I’m EXCITED to do FIRST GRADE with YOU! 


Jesus Loves Me, Adapted by Paige Givens, 2014

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When You’ve Got a Wrinkled Heart

I held up a perfect, red heart for my kindergarten kids to see. They ooh’ed and aah’ed in appreciation.

“That’s beautiful, Mrs. Givens. I can’t even make one like that,” said the boy who proudly held the self-proclaimed Best Cutter Outer award. No one even argued when he called himself this. He was the best cutter-outer that we had.

“I think this heart is beautiful, too,” I told my kids. “It’s so nice and smooth and clean.” They all agreed.

Then their awe-filled faces looked on in despair as I crumpled the heart up into a tiny ball and stomped on it with my foot.

“What’d you do that for?!?” asked Best Cutter Outer. “It was so nice.” He was so distraught, I actually thought he might cry.

You could’ve heard a pin drop. Nineteen pairs of eyes were trained on me as they all held their breath. I had their full attention.

“Imagine that this was your heart. It was so clean and pretty and pure when you came into the classroom. You thought it was perfect, and it was. But now think about some of the things that have been said to you before that hurt your feelings, that hurt your heart. Your pretty, smooth heart got a little wrinkle the first time someone said or did something ugly to you. Then another wrinkle when they said it again, didn’t it? But even worse than your own heart getting wrinkled is knowing that you put wrinkles in someone else’s heart…”

A girl sniffled. A boy looked down at his hands.

“Wouldn’t it be sad if all of our hearts were wadded up like this ball every day? It would be terrible! How are we going to fix this?”

A little hand went up in the air. “Smooth it out,” said a shaky voice, almost in a pleading way.

“Yes! Smooth it out! Flatten it up!” They started shouting. “Get the iron!” someone yelled, and I conveniently “didn’t hear” that one.

I carefully began to smooth the heart out. Some sighed in relief. I smoothed and smoothed and smoothed until they started wriggling around on their carpet spots.

“Well?” I held it up. “What do you think?”

They looked at it carefully, thoughtfully. “Better,” someone said. “But not the same. It’s still wrinkled.”

“It’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart, isn’t it?” I answered. “We can say we’re sorry, we can try to be helpful and have fun with the person, and we can start saying nice things to them to try and smooth out the mess we made. But see these little wrinkles? They’re hard to get rid of.”


It really hit home with my precious five-and-six-year-olds, who were just beginning to find out  how hard this world can be.

We remind ourselves often in my room to watch our words,  our hands, and our feet to make sure they are not hurting someone else’s heart. We talk about how hard it is to fix a wrinkled heart. Just yesterday, I had a little girl come up to me and say, “Mrs. Givens, _________ has wrinkled my heart twice today. What am I gonna do with her?” 🙂

It’s true, friends. This world is so hard. Our hearts are easily wrinkled. We have an enemy who uses every available tool to crush our hearts–to destroy them. And his best weapon? Our brothers and sisters on this earth. The situations we are walking through. The past we run from.

Just like my school children learned and still discuss daily, it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart. My own human mind repeats to me when I stare at the construction paper cut-out, “It’s impossible, Paige. This will NEVER be the same heart again. It’s impossible to fix.”

And it is impossible, in our own strength. There is only one Mender of hearts, and that is the Maker Himself. The One who formed us and molded us in our mother’s womb. The One who made our hearts.

We were born with black, sin-filled hearts, and only when we invite Jesus in to stay does He clean out our mess of sin. And because we are human, we let sin back in our hearts every day. Because…we are human. But when we become Christians, we have the privilege–the underserved, grace-filled, merciful privilege–of asking Jesus daily to come in and clean out our hearts. And He does. Every time we ask.

But what about the wrinkles? What about the cruel words that have been said to us? The misdeeds, the unfairness that has attacked us? What about the grief that has broken our hearts into pieces? What about the guilt that racks our hearts when we are responsible for smashing someone else’s?

He fixes that, too. He cleans us up. He lovingly mends the tears and broken places with His healing touch. He smooths out the wrinkles, just as a loving parent smooths the head of their beloved child.

Grace is a healing balm.

On our own, we cannot forgive and forget. We cannot smooth the wrinkles of bitterness, grief, and pain out of our hearts. But with God, all things are possible. With God, our hearts aren’t just mended–they can be made whole and pure again.

When you have a wrinkled heart, give it to the One who made your heart. He will fix it, friends. I know, because He fixed mine.

And He didn’t even need an iron. 😉

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 

2 Corinthians 4: 7-9, 16

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Lean In…

This time of year, it can be tough for teachers. We are tired. We are frazzled. We are worn…and we have a LOT to do , while still trying to balance our classroom routine. Sometimes we get so busy doing this receipt or that checklist or this assessment that we let the kids “work just a little longer”, which is like a blinking red sign to our kids that the routine is a little off today because the teacher is busy.  And every teacher knows, when you break that routine–especially at the end of the year–the kids go crazy, and then your stress grows. As the stress grows, it seems that the tasks grow by some magical power.

The assessments, the behavior, the activities, the paperwork, the meetings, the tiredness, the routine that threatens to fall apart–it gets to me. I feel it rising up in me on the worst days (I don’t know what “it” could be defined as…my blood pressure, maybe?). And just when I’m about to break, I feel Him. He’s there, and He’s telling me to calm down, take a deep breath, and…

Lean in.

Lean in to His side, and let Him carry me through the rough moments. The moments when I’m sad and hurting because “my kids” will be gone in a few weeks, leaving my classroom empty. The moments when I’m frustrated and honestly just WISH that my classroom would be empty for about ten minutes so that I could finish at least one task. The moments when I’m overwhelmed at the amount of work on my list of things to do and the time that is quickly ticking away.

Lean in. Let Him take the stress, and feel His strength to do my work and do it well with no excuses. Let Him take my snippy words and replace them with His grace. Let Him take my moments so that every single one will count.

I need to lean in.

This time of year can be hard for mammas and all parents. The kids are going to practice most every weeknight and coming home to end-of-the-year projects and tests to study for. The folders still need to be signed, the money needs to be turned in, the kids need to be cleaned…wait–do they? Didn’t he take a shower? Did I smell him yet to see if he took a shower? Did I look at him, really look him in the eye today? The grades are coming in left and right, and I start to feel it rising up. My kids are not taking their schoolwork seriously enough, they’re not cleaning their room enough, I’m not washing their clothes, our house looks like a storm hit, and I’m about to just…

Lean in.

Lean in to His side, and listen to His words. He tells me that I am more than what my house looks like. My kids are more than a grade, and they are more than the sports they play. We can slow down, we can actually look at each other and smile and have a real conversation other than “Where are we going tonight? What will we eat? What tests did you take today? Did you get any grades? Did you think it through? Do you have any papers for me to sign? What do you mean we need to turn that in? Didn’t I already pay for that?!?”

Lean in to His calm. To His perspective. The perspective of eternity, where none of the worldly prizes of this rat race matter. Our eternal home, where the only thing that will matter is Jesus and what we did with Him while we lived here.

This time of year…these two sweet holidays of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day…they are hard for so many of my friends and family. Sons and daughters who go through the day without their mammas and daddies. Mothers and fathers who grieve through the day alone, with their arms aching to hold their absent children. The pain rises up, threatening to overcome, until all that’s left to do is to turn to our heavenly Father.

And lean in.

He’s there, with His arms opened up wide. Ready to catch you. Ready to carry you through the stress, the busy-ness, the heartache, and the grief. He’s there, ready to listen. Ready to respond. Ready to take care of you.

Lean in, sweet friend, and let go. Whether your grief is big or small, your stress level is at its highest or just beginning to rise. Whether your tasks are endless, or whether you feel useless and dejected. Lean in.

Let Him take it from here.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

 

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To My Child’s Teacher…Thank You

To my sons’ teachers:

I know you don’t have much time to stop and read this, but I want to say it anyway. Your job is underappreciated, overlooked, and underestimated so many times and in so many ways. You barely have time to eat and go to the restroom during the day, and yet so much is expected of you. You all are human, and sometimes your human-ness threatens to get in the way of your teaching, but you are a truly special breed of teachers.

You’re the kind who leave your personal troubles at the door when you walk into the classroom. You’re the kind who make my children feel like they are the most special students in the class. And what’s even better–you make every one of  “your kids” feel like they are the most special student in the class.

You are the kind of teachers who  don’t spend your day complaining about lack of resources, lack of respect, and lack of acknowledgement for teachers. You are too busy teaching my children to complain about lesser things. Because you don’t ever complain, I think sometimes parents do forget to tell you a word of thanks now and then for the mammoth job that you seem to carry on your shoulders with the grace of a dancer.

Sometimes I forget to tell you.

But not today. I want to tell you thank you.

Thank you for waiting for my boy at the door so that you can tell him “Good Morning!”

Thank you for asking him how his ballgame went last night. 

Thank you for making him hang up his backpack when he lets it fall on the ground…because you want him to learn responsibility. 

Thank you for not allowing him to turn in half-effort work…because you want him to always do his best. I see his improvement, and I thank you for that.

Thank you for listening to him talk about the little things when you have attendance, grades, meetings, plans, and 18 other kids who want you to hear their little things, too. 

Thank you for encouraging him when he is discouraged. 

Thank you for correcting him when he needs it. 

Thank you for holding the garbage can for him and patting his back when he throws up.

Thank you for that time you stood at the bathroom door and walked him through how to change his own clothes (because he’d spilled milk all over himself and was having a breakdown).

Thank you for teaching him to love reading…to love books, and to love learning.

Thank you for that time you made sure he had someone to be his friend at recess after weeks of him doing recess alone. You helped him learn how to find others to work with and play with. He hasn’t forgotten, and neither have I. Thank you.

Thank you for that time you set aside your own comfort to tell me about a problem you could foresee. Because you told me, we worked on it and avoided a big disaster. I haven’t forgotten about that, and I thank you.

Thank you for holding him in your lap when he fell and hurt his knee. 

Thank you for worrying over him–over all of them–when you were “signed out” for the day.

Thank you for trying something new when the old familiar way didn’t seem to be working for long addition problems. 

Thank you for emailing me to let me know that he was okay after a rough morning. You had so many things to do, and you thought of me. Thank you.

Thank you for drawing him out when he needed it.

Thank you for calming him down when he needed it. 

Thank you for calming me down when I needed it. 🙂

Thank you for keeping me informed. 

Thank you for convincing my boy that he could stand in front of his class and give a speech when he thought he couldn’t do it. You knew he could do it. 

Thank you for coming in and teaching your heart out when it was really breaking because your family members were ill. Or gone. 

Thank you for those times you left your own little one sick at home in another’s care so that you could come and care for my little one. 

Thank you for putting his safety before yours in tornadoes, fire scares, and lockdowns. 

Thank you for the hugs, the high-fives, the fist-bumps, the nods, the smiles, and the love that you have shown to my boy in more ways than I will ever know. 

A simple thank you is nowhere near enough for all that you’ve done. You have all changed my sons’ lives, changing my life and their dad’s life in the process. I pray that you will see the fruits of the seeds you have planted for the rest of your life, and that you will see thanks in the lives of your students and their families over and over again.

You’re the kind of teachers who didn’t go into teaching for the thank you’s.  But  I’m telling you anyway.

Thank you.

Thank a teacher today. 

 

 

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Thank You Mrs. Johnson

Fifth grade was the hardest year of my school experience. I struggled academically. I worried socially. I went on an emotional roller coaster daily. Until fifth grade, I had made good grades without really having to study too hard and I had always had a great group of friends around me who didn’t require me to  work at being friends. Until fifth grade, I accepted and followed all rules as exactly what they are–rules to be followed.

But in fifth grade, things became different. Things that had always been easy for me to accept and follow suddenly became giant question marks to me. Being accepted by the crowd became so important in my life. And suddenly, the values that had been instilled in me since I was a tiny child started to look  a little less than perfect in my adolescent eyes.

I became a Christian at an early age. I firmly believed then, and still do, that Christ loved me and died for my sins. At the tender age of five, I asked Him to come into my heart and clean all of the sin out. I asked Him to stay there, and He did. I totally agree with Romans 8:38  that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” And I have proof. Even as a fifth grader who suddenly came to a wall of questions and fear about the faith she had embraced as a young child, God showed me that nothing could separate me from Him. He provided a lifeline in my life just when I needed it the most.

He put my name on the fifth grade class list of Suzette Johnson.

He knew. He knew the friends I would want to join, the choices I would struggle over, the school work I would want to shrug off. He knew that for the first time ever I would want to disobey. So He sent me someone who would not let me stray. He sent me someone who would allow no less than my best, someone who would not be satisfied with my half efforts. Someone who wasn’t satisfied with anyone’s half efforts. He sent me Mrs. Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson was the teacher that all fifth grade girls want to have. She was young, pretty, and exuberant. She didn’t use textbooks very often, and she put our desks into community tables rather than the long, straight rows we were used to. And then, a few weeks into school, our fifth grade girlish excitement grew even further when Mrs. Johnson told us that she was expecting her first baby! She let us suggest names when she found out the baby was a boy, she let us snack throughout the day when she had to eat special foods, and she let us hear the baby’s heartbeat on tape. I even remember when she read the book Shiloh to us and she cried at the end. Right in front of us. I couldn’t believe there was a teacher who was as wonderful as Mrs. Johnson.

And of all the years for me to  be “un-wonderful” it was in fifth grade with this teacher. I had always tried so hard to be good, to be smart, and to do my best, but suddenly in fifth grade I was all mixed up as to whether I wanted to be good and do my best anymore. But I so wanted to please Mrs. Johnson–it just seemed that my desire to fit in with certain crowds overrode the desire to make my teacher proud.

I remember when a visiting preacher came to my church during a revival time that year and he preached about the reality of heaven and hell. The deceiver began to whisper doubts into my ear of whether I was really a Christian. Wasn’t five a little too young to become a Christian? If I was really going to heaven , why was I struggling so hard to be good? Why was it so unpopular to do the right thing? I would lay awake at night and try unsuccessfully to work through my inner turmoil.

Meanwhile, at school, my grades fell, my choices became poor, and my conduct grew worse. I won’t say I was a terrible student, but I definitely was not doing well academically or socially. I thought I had it pretty bad, but soon I would learn that my life was not as bad as I thought it to be.

Mrs. Johnson, for all of her fun and innovative ways, would tolerate no nonsense from her students. She lovingly but firmly demanded our  best and confronted us when we tried to pretend with our half efforts. She spent a lot of time on me that year. I still remember her saying more than once to me, “Paige, you are too smart and too good to behave like this…”

The day that changed me started out like most days. Halfway through the day, I was involved in some kind of catty, girlish conflict that landed a small group of us out in the hall with a fiery Mrs. Johnson, who was tired of our craziness. We were all talking at once and seemed to land our blame on one friend, who had her eyes on her shoes. Mrs. Johnson turned to the friend and just said, “Well?”

The one word question prompted a torrent of tears from the friend. With the tears came words about a broken home, more broken than I’d ever imagined a home could be. Words and sobs that told of drugs and abuse. All of us other girls stared in  horror as we heard a story of a foreign life that was happening right beside us every day.

Mrs. Johnson’s arms wrapped tenderly around the friend, but the fire remained in her eyes as she turned to us. “Not. A. Word. To Anyone. Understand?”

I realized my life was not as bad as it could be. I realized how totally, completely blessed I was to have a stable home, a loving family, and a relationship with a heavenly Father who would just not give up on me. I realized that the choices I was struggling over really weren’t that hard to make in light of my friend’s turmoil. Later, Mrs. Johnson spoke to our little group one at a time about what we had heard. I poured out my conflicts and my new realizations to her with my tears and told her that I would try harder. I told her I was a Christian and that I needed to act better. She said, “You need to let Jesus act through you and it won’t be so hard…you know, I’m a Christian, too, Paige. We have that in common.” And just like that, the choices were no longer hard.

Teachers have so much more influence than they even know. I never told Mrs. Johnson what an impact she had on me, because at the time I didn’t realize it was happening. I could’ve had a cold, impersonal instructor for the year who would only notice my worst and call attention to it daily. Instead, God knew I would need Suzette Johnson and her influence.

Thank a teacher today. Thank the ones who did so much more than just academic instruction in your life. Thank the ones who didn’t settle for your average efforts. Thank a teacher who took the time to listen to you, to shape you, and to push you towards the person you are today.

I had some wonderful teachers in my life.

Thank you Mrs. Reid for teaching me that school was a safe, loving place to come to. And thank you for teaching me how to be a kindergarten teacher when I came back to you 17 years later.

Thank you Mrs. Russell for teaching me how to read even when it was hard for me.

Thank you Mrs. Wilder for teaching me to love math!

Thank you Mr. Parker for teaching me that technology was important–and that guy teachers were okay to have!

Thank you Mrs. Palmer for teaching me to LOVE reading.

Thank you Mr. Reid for teaching me to “chug on”  in geometry, even when it was hard.

Thank  you Mrs. Cutcliffe for teaching me to be a writer.

Thank you Mr. Arnold for teaching me what Christianity looks like when it is lived out daily.

Thank you Mrs. Linda Parker for teaching me to take the time to listen to my kindergarten babies.

And thank you Mrs. Johnson. Thank you. Thank you for being God’s tool to keep me in His hand at a time when I felt separated. He used you to change my life.

I pray that I can be that tool in a student’s life, too.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

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Oh, The Questions They Will Ask!

Five and six-year-olds are good at many, many things. I mean, just think about it–they go so quickly from not even knowing how to write their names to actually reading and writing stories! The amount of knowledge that they soak up in just two short years of Kindergarten and First Grade is both astounding and inspiring.

There are several reasons that these amazing learners gain skills so quickly. First, most are not afraid of failing. They are intrinsically determined to keep trying until they succeed. Second, many are eager to learn new things. They are naturally curious about the world around them. Which leads me to the third–and biggest–reason that young children gain so much knowledge.

They ask questions. 

So. Many. Questions.

I can’t even tell you how many times a day I am questioned about this concept or that story. And it’s wonderful! Questioning is the key to understanding! Questioning is good! In our middle and high schools, teachers train  to figure out how to draw questions out of their students. I say the best training is to go to Kindergarten.

But sometimes in Kindergarten, the questions come flying from all directions, and they get random, and they become crazy, and I have to say…”Stop for a moment. No more questions. Now we think…”

And in the quiet moments after the buses have pulled away and the last child has gone home, the questions come back to me sometimes and they are absolutely hilarious!

SO…drumroll! I have compiled a list of some of the most memorable questions that have been thrown my way over the past 12 years. Some have made me giggle, some have made me think, and some have made me proud. And some have made me scratch my head and say, “Huh?!?”

These are just a scratch on the surface of how many questions I’ve caught–and dodged–over the past years.  And some of them…well, what would you have said? 🙂

Mrs. Givens, do you seriously have a driver’s license? Guys! She can drive a car!

Mrs. Givens, why can’t we put a pencil in the plug hole?

Mrs. Givens, are you in sixth grade?

Mrs. Givens, who’s your prince in this picture? (my wedding picture)

Mrs. Givens, how did your brother break his arm? (my son had a cast on)

Mrs. Givens, will you fix my sock so that the line is right on my toes?

(what seems like hours later…) No, that’s not right. Can I just not wear socks?

Mrs. Givens, are you 13? 72? 100?

Mrs. Givens, how do you eat when we’re not at school?

Mrs. Givens, how are you gonna get that baby out? (when I was expecting)

Where is Mrs. Givens? (I was hanging papers on our door at the hallway) Do you think she went to First Grade?

Mrs. Givens, why does your voice go up when you ask a question?

(During an observation from Central Office) Mrs. Givens, what’s wrong with you?

Mrs. Givens, what is your favorite way to run? 

Mrs. Givens, what is that smell? (Oh, the possibilities)

Mrs. Givens, what is that thing on your face? (a mole)

Mrs. Givens, can I go to the bathroom? I gotta doodle.

Mrs. Givens, where do you sleep at night? (my explanation) What? You have a house?!?

Mrs. Givens, where are you going to put your baby after you have him? Can he sit by me?

Mrs. Givens, can you be my mama too?

Mrs. Givens, why is your hair brown?

Mrs. Givens, will you peel my banana?

Mrs. Givens, can you help me find my “packpack”? It’s not in my “cuvvy”.

Mrs. Givens, will you scratch my back?

Mrs. Givens, why don’t you ever yell? Does a frog got your throat?

Mrs. Givens, are you an old woman?

Mrs. Givens, can you cut my fingernails? (and then they produced clippers…which were promptly confiscated)

Mrs. Givens, why did you cut your hair? I wish you hadn’t done that!

Mrs. Givens, who will you vote for in the Presidential Election?

Mrs. Givens, are you going to throw up? (yes)

Mrs. Givens, did you go to college?

Mrs. Givens, where do you put your bed while we are at school? Do you use our napmats? 

Mrs. Givens, will you hold this apple still so I can take the first bite of it?

Mrs. Givens, will you pull my tooth?

Mrs. Givens, why do we have to wear underwear at school?

dog

Mrs. Givens, how much do you have? You know, in your bank account?

Mrs. Givens, what is a forwijit? (Me: I don’t know what you’re talking about…) You know…forwijit stands? (in the Pledge of Allegiance)

Mrs. Givens, it’s okay if my tooth is a little bit chipped right? I need a sharp tooth to eat meat,  right? (upon returning from PE)

Mrs. Givens, will you cut the tag out of my shirt?

Mrs. Givens, why does gravity pull you up in space instead of pulling you down?

Mrs. Givens, can you laugh in Spanish?

Mrs. Givens, will you make me a “puffet” out of my lunch sack? 

Mrs. Givens, can I show you my pet lizard? It’s in my backpack.

Mrs. Givens, is it okay to drink from the water fountains? The ones in the boys’ bathroom? The ones on the wall?

Mrs. Givens, can you hear me? 

(I say five minutes with voices turned off–no questions…30 seconds go by) Mrs. Givens, has it been five minutes yet?

Mrs. Givens, can you tell what I’m saying? (begins to mouth words)

Mrs. Givens, will you be my teacher again next year? (I’d go every year if I could)

Mrs. Givens, do you love me as much as I love you? (yes, I sure do)

Mrs. Givens, aren’t you proud of me? (you’ll never know how much)

 

I love being a teacher of young children. I LOVE it! Questions and all. 🙂

 

image from Pinterest

 

Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Running Back to the Ark

The drop hit him on the nose first. He looked up, squinted into the sky.

The air smelled like rain.

Another drop, then another.

Soon the sound of pattering rain filled his ears as the air around him danced with drops.

What was his instinct?

Was it to run? Was it to panic, to grab his loved ones close and drag them back into the ark?

Before Noah had built the ark according to God’s instructions, the earth had not seen rain and storms that were strong enough to flood the earth. The Bible tells us that “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” (Hebrews 11:7)

Even though they’d been warned, their human minds could not comprehend what a flood would be like.

I don’t know if our human minds can comprehend a rain that floods the whole entire earth.

Noah listened to God and was spared. He built an ark and his family was safe in the flood.

After forty days and forty nights, the rains ceased and the ark eventually landed on dry ground. God promised Noah that He would never destroy the earth with a flood again (Genesis 9:11).

God promised. He is sovereign. He is holy. If He said that He wouldn’t destroy the earth with a flood again, then the ark was no longer needed, right? The animals could be released, homes could be rebuilt, and a new life could start.

But I have to imagine…had it been me, what would I have done the next time I saw rain? What would I have done the next time I heard the distant roll of thunder? How would I have reacted when I saw the sky flash with lightning?

I’m pretty sure I would’ve hiked up my robes and taken off towards the ark, leaving muddy footprints in my wake.

God’s promises hold true. He has promised to take care of us. In Deuteronomy, we are told to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’ve heard those words my entire life, but have I really taken them to heart? He is with me. He is for me. He will never forsake me.

I say I believe, but I struggle with carrying blueprints to my own personal ark around in my back pocket.

What will I do if _________________ happens? What plan will I have? How will I take care of _________________?

Anxiety has long-since been my shadow, the one I can’t get rid of. It’s a greedy being, following me around, lurking in the shadows, always taking but never giving a solution.

I can watch the news and the anxiety reaches out and steals my joy, holding it high above my head where I can’t seem to reach. I can go through a School Crisis Training, and anxiety sidles up and envelopes me until I feel like I can’t breathe.

I’m sprinting back towards the ark.

I’m ready to hide, even though He promised that the floods wouldn’t overtake me. Even though He promised to take care of me. Even though He promised to be with me.

I think the problem with my heart is that I know storms will come in my life, and I’m not trusting Him with His promise.

God’s promise was not to keep me dry in the storms. He didn’t promise that no bad thing would ever happen to me.

His promise was that He was going to take care of me. He promised to be with me, to never leave me. His promise was that I will not be destroyed by disaster.

Storms will happen. Disasters will happen. But He has promised to take care of His children and uphold us, that we won’t be destroyed. Even in death! “…that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

There’s no need to run back to ark to be saved, because He said so. Jesus is my rock, my salvation, my calm.

Jesus is my ark.

And that’s all I need.

Posted in Devotionals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment