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)

Posted in Devotionals, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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?

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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

I Saw the Cross of Jesus

the cross

I saw the cross of Jesus, when burdened with my sin;
I sought the cross of Jesus, to give me peace within;
I brought my soul to Jesus, He cleansed it in His blood;
And in the cross of Jesus I found my peace with God.

I love the cross of Jesus, it tells me what I am—
A vile and guilty creature, saved only through the Lamb;
No righteousness nor merit, no beauty can I plead;
Yet in the cross I glory, my title there I read.

I trust the cross of Jesus, in every trying hour,
My sure and certain refuge, my never failing tower;
In every fear and conflict, I more than conqueror am;
Living, I’m safe, or dying, through Christ, the risen Lamb.

Safe in the cross of Jesus! There let my weary heart
Still rest in peace unshaken, till with Him, ne’er to part;
And then in strains of glory I’ll sing His wondrous power,
Where sin can never enter, and death is known no more.

Posted in Devotionals, Music and Songwriting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

In the Classroom: The Power of Routine

It was inevitable. My voice was leaving me slowly but surely. The crud that had been going around my classroom had made its way to me, and my voice was sounding more and more hoarse as a result. I knew it was heading towards a whisper.

My kindergarten kids went to PE and when they came back, I remarked, mostly to myself, that my voice was “going away”.

All chatter and activity ceased and they stared at me.

“But what will we do if your voice goes away?” a sweet boy wailed.

“Well,” I whispered matter-of-factly, “We will do what we always do.”

What we always do. The routine.

When our day is going so totally wonderfully, we follow the routine.

When our day is a hot mess, we follow the routine the best we can.

When someone checks in late, we welcome him or her and continue with our routine.

When there is a fire drill or tornado drill, we stop the routine to practice, and then we come back in. And we follow the routine.

When someone gets sick, we fix them up, take a sanitizing break, and then continue with our routine.

When I have a substitute, we follow the routine.

When I don’t feel like it, I follow the routine anyway, and then I ALWAYS feel better.

See the pattern here?

Routine is so important in the classroom. Knowing that expectations and procedures are going to be mostly the same gives children a sense of structure and security like nothing else.

At the beginning of the year, most of my kids ask me over and over throughout the day, “When is lunch? When is snack? When do we go outside? When can I go home?”

They want to know the routine. They want the assurance of what’s to come.

One year I posted a picture schedule for a particular student who needed a visual of our daily routine. I didn’t realize at the time how much the picture schedule would impact my entire classroom management system, which would, in turn, impact my teaching. Gone were the “When do we…?” questions. Gone were the “Is it Library Day? Do we go to Computer Lab today?” questions.  Instead, I referred to the pictures of our daily routine, and I implemented it. Every day.

I simply took pictures or printed clipart to represent our activities for the day, put the pictures in order of our routine, and stuck a magnet dot beside the pictures. Our Helping Hand gets to move the dot as we complete each activity for the day. If we are doing something special, like Library, I post a star at the time of the special activity.



I know this probably sounds like a no-brainer to most seasoned teachers, and there is no magic trick to making your daily routine. It’s as simple as it sounds. You do what you say you are going to do in order pretty much at the same time daily. And then,  the magic happens when you stick to your routine.

I am realistic. I realize that things come up to disrupt the routine. I realize that some days your students will be reading like rock stars, and you are not going to stop them just because the clock says it’s time for math.  I realize that sometimes Children’s Theatre is going to come busting up into your school and totally mess up your routine (but you can get back on it the next day!). I know that one day it will be snowing outside, and you will stop and take your kids outside to play and “catch” snowflakes with black construction paper (for all your Northerners, snow in Alabama is certainly a reason to stop everything!). But for the most part, I have learned that in order to have better management, teaching, and more learning, it is imperative that I stick to my routine.

I mean, my students don’t even tell time yet. But they can tell you exactly what we do and the order in which we do it.

Remember that day my voice went away? The rest of the day went relatively smoothly, with my gesturing to the daily picture schedule and the students simply doing the routine.

Sometimes I see that things are not working so well in the order that I have them, and I change the routine. Although a rare occurrence, once I change our picture schedule and give several reminders, class time begins to flow in a smooth stream once again.

The key to making a successful routine is finding out what works best for you as a teacher and for your classroom atmosphere from year to year. Since I teach Kindergarten and First Grade, I usually try to set up my schedule as a pattern of sorts.

We sit and listen, then we get up and “do”. We sit and listen, then we get up and do.

I’ve had several wonderful teacher friends ask about my daily routine, so I will share my current year’s (Kindergarten) daily schedule with you! J

Welcome Routine- I make it a point to be at my door each morning to greet my kiddos with a hug or a high-five, and then they come in, unpack,  do their counting baskets (a blog on counting baskets to come soon!), and do their Morning Activity.

Morning Meeting– We meet together and go over our Calendar, the Daily News, and any special notes to our daily routine and picture schedule. So this the “sit and listen” part of my pattern. J


Literacy Stations- Now it’s time for us to “get up and do”! After quick reminders of what the day’s tasks are at our Literacy Stations, we disperse and get busy reading, writing, using technology, and working with the teacher.

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This student’s card tells him the order of his Literacy Work Stations.

Reading Vocabulary and Comprehension– We have a shared reading activity where specific comprehension strategies and vocabulary words are taught, used, and solidified.
Phonics and Sight Word Practice– At this time, we take part in some type of “Reading Strategy” practice. Sometimes this looks like a worksheet (that we do whole group) that gives us a chance to use our phonics and sight word strategies, sometimes it looks like partners going over sight words and decodable words/books together.

Recess- Every day. Rain or shine. Indoor or outdoor. We have recess. It’s a non-negotiable 15 minutes where we get the “ants out of our pants”, learn to make-believe (recess outside is on our front lawn instead of the playground- students are encouraged to use their imaginations with games and dramatic play, and get some exercise. Great ideas for indoor recess can be found on youtube!

Handwriting– This quick five to ten minutes includes instruction on correct letter formation and directed drawing.

Writing Workshop– My favorite, favorite, favorite! Kindergarten students are not too young to write! The works of genius that come out of this time never cease to amaze me. In Kindergarten, students work mostly on narrative stories, opinion pieces, and informational articles. I could go on and on about this wonderful part of our routine, or you can just read more here! J

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Music and Singing- At this time, students sing seasonal songs together while one or a few go to wash hands, use the restroom, and get their lunchboxes ready for lunch. This time of day runs so smoothly after a month or two, but takes lots of direction at the beginning of the year in Kindergarten.

Lunch

PE– of course, this portion of the routine depends on the master schedule.

Story Time- During this portion of the day, I usually read a chapter book to my students. We have fallen in love with characters like Junie B. Jones, Wilbur and Fern, and the Boxcar children during this lovely time of just reading for the pure enjoyment of books.

Counting Strategies – We begin our math class daily with counting aloud. Depending on where we are in the year, and where we are as a class, we count to 50, or to 75, or to 100 by ones. We count by fives and tens. I pick a number and we start there and count forwards and backwards to another number. We look for patterns on the 100 chart as well.
Daily Data- Each week, we work on student data that starts with a Question of the Week. On Monday, we answer the question and construct the data by putting our names on Venn Diagrams or T Charts or graphs of some sort. On Tuesday, we tally the data. On Wednesday, we write about the data. On Thursday, we show the data in a new way. On Friday, we make addition and subtraction equations out of the data information.

Counting Basket- Our helping hand, who was chosen during the Morning Meeting time, gets his or her counting basket and shows us how to count correctly. This is a great, quick assessment for me to see what counting strategies are being used by students in my class (more on Counting Baskets in a soon-to-come blog post!).

Math Journal-Once we’ve established the number of items in our Counting Basket, we use that number to work in our Math Journals. At the beginning of the year, we show different numbers in a variety of ways (numeral, number word, tallies, drawings, symbols). We learn to break teen numbers into tens and ones and we learn how to construct ten frames. We make patterns and shapes and equations. My students amaze me during our Number Talk/Math Journal time! More about Math Talks here.

Math Stations- After a quick discussion of our daily tasks, we break apart and work on math manipulatives, writing about math, technology and math, and small groups with the teacher. More about math here.

Science/Social Studies- During this portion of our routine, we do Science experiments, read informational texts, and make thematic arts and crafts.

Snack- Yummy! Everyone loves snack time! Mine is about as short and sweet as it gets! J

Rest- Today’s rest time in Kindergarten doesn’t look like nap times of old. We are doing well if we get about 25 minutes of rest time in a day! I still have several sweeties that love to sleep, and they look forward to their power nap. The rest of my Kindergarten friends listen to alphabet music or watch reading and math power points during rest time. What do I do? Well, I run around like a crazy woman getting mailboxes ready for pack up, cleaning out lunchboxes that were leaked into, answering emails, and getting materials ready for tomorrow’s routine.

Pack Up/Afternoon Meeting– during this time, we reflect on the great points of our day. We talk about some parts that we hope will go more smoothly tomorrow. We also talk about any special things that will be part of our routines tomorrow.

It’s a fast-paced, move-and-groove, keep-on-going day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our routine. It’s what we do, and how we succeed.

Sometimes I get asked, How do you know when you need to change your routine?

I am not a fan of change, as you can see by this entire post! J But sometimes, I see when things aren’t working so smoothly, and I know it’s time for a change. If I have a certain time of day where behaviors that are undesirable seem to be on the rise, I look closely at the routine and think about what should change. And I tweak and tweak and tweak until the behaviors work themselves out.

I also change my routine after Christmas in Kindergarten in order to add more handwriting and phonics/sight word work.

When you are having a bad day in the classroom, get back on your routine!

When you want to go outside and play all day because it’s 75 degrees, stick to the routine instead, and you’ll be glad you did!

When your voice starts to go away, stick to the routine and let the routine do the talking for you!

By the way, I did end up taking the next day off when I lost my voice in order to go to the doctor. The substitute teacher made a point to write to me and tell me that my students basically “ran themselves” that day, going by the picture schedule, although they were concerned that I had lost my voice.

The next day, when I returned, all of my kids were excited to learn where I went to “find my voice” again. J They were eager to tell me about their day with a different teacher. We took a moment to talk about our special day apart…

And then we went back to our routine.

 

*Teachers! Share with us. What routines work best for you?

 

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7 More Weeks

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The hallway is quiet. The teacher unlocks her classroom door and thinks to herself…

7 more weeks. I can do this. I can! There is so much left to get to. I’m going to have to make every minute count. No days “off”. I’m going to have to use every second to make sure those kids are ready for the next grade. I don’t want them going on with holes in their understanding, with gaps in their comprehension. Wow…I’ve got so much to do in only 7 weeks, and some of that will be interrupted by faculty meetings, PD, testing, and end-of-year paperwork. Can I really do this and do it right? I can do this. Okay. 7 more weeks…

Down the hall, another teacher sits at her desk and gazes around her classroom. She thinks to herself…

7 more weeks. 30 years of being an educator, and now it all comes down to 7 more weeks. This room has held my career within its walls. It’s seen the tears, the frustration, the laughter, the wonder, and the joy that comes with teaching and learning. It’s held open the window of knowledge for so many children. Bobby–wow–I thought he’d never start reading, and then, boom! One day, the light came on and he was reading everything he could get his hands on! And then, I taught his boy, and Jenny’s boy, too. I wonder if those kids remember me? I wonder if they know how much I loved teaching them? How they helped me, REALLY helped me,  through those three years that I had cancer? I’m tired. I’m ready for new adventures in retirement, but–goodness–I will miss this room. These kids. I will miss standing at my door and getting hugs and good morning smiles each day. I’ve done it for 30 years, and now I have 7 more weeks…

Next door, another teacher turns on her computers and fumes to herself…

7 more weeks. If I can just get through the next 7 weeks, I will be free of this place, at least for the summer. Free of the pressure. Free of the frustration of giving, giving, giving and seeing nothing gained. I wonder if Sally had her medicine before she got on the bus this morning? Because there is no way I can fight through 7 more weeks with her all day long. I need some help. I’m so burnt-out. Let’s see…I’ve “covered” all of my standards, so I’m going to coast through these next weeks and make them go as fast as I can…

Across the hall, a teacher hums to herself as she posts the day’s assignment…

7 more weeks. I’m going to miss these kiddos. All of them. Yes…all of them! I hope I’ve done what they need every day. I hope I’ve shown them how much I love them! I hope that Ben ate dinner last night, or he’s going to be starving this morning. I’ll need to make sure he eats breakfast either way. I hope that Missie got some shoes that fit her since she is growing so much. Shoot! I should have gotten her some while we were on break…why didn’t I remember that? Well, I still have 7 weeks to take care of these kids. I can do a lot in 7 weeks…

And on the bus, a child solemnly stares out the window and thinks…

7 more weeks. That’s all I get. Only 7 more weeks to call that teacher mine. I only get 7 more weeks to see her smiling at me, to tell her about my days at home, to smell her perfume. I only get 7 more weeks to get some good food for lunch and breakfast, for her to give me a snack. I’m glad she doesn’t fuss at me for not having a snack. I only get 7 more weeks to listen to her read stories. I like her voice. It’s never too loud or too mean. I only get to listen to her for 7 more weeks. I wish we could come to school every day, even on the weekends. Even in the summer. And I wish she could be my teacher all the time. But that’s not how it works. I get 7 more weeks. That’s not very long…

There’s a lot of ways to look at 7 more weeks. How can we make it count?

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The God Who Makes All Things New: A Song

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:23


The God Who Makes All Things New                                                                                             by: Paige Givens, Copyright 2015 (BMI)

When winter pulls her blanket
Of heavy-fallen snow
Revealing what’s underneath
I’m left with the image
Of a broken, barren land
Until creation wears the coat of spring

From a God Who makes all things new
He’s the God Who makes all things new
When I’m empty and tired I’ll hold true
To the God Who makes all things new

It starts with just a glimmer
And gentle ray of sun
That slowly turns darkness to light
And I’m left with  assurance
That the victory’s been won
And the fear has been banished with night

By a God Who makes all things new
He’s the God Who makes all things new
When I’m scared of the dark I’ll hold true
To the God Who makes all things new

If you could pull the blanket
Of grace that covers me
Revealing what’s underneath
You would see the image
Of a once-imprisoned soul
That is now forgiven and set free

By a God Who makes all things new
He’s the God Who makes all things new
When I think of who I was I’ll hold true
To the God Who makes all things new

Posted in Music and Songwriting | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments