October 26, 2010

oh, babies!

Nope. I don't have baby fever. But I did LOVE this documentary - Babies. It's amazing, hilarious, mind-boggling and absolutely necessary for you to see. No narration. No words. Just scene after scene of the lives of four babies from four completely different cultures, living life as only a baby can do.



(Sorry that my layout cuts off part of the screen. If you want, here is the link as well.)

October 19, 2010

What every child needs

"When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for."

- Toni Morrison

I have had a heavy heart over the past few weeks regarding school. A few weeks ago, I gave my kids an activity where they were to go around to other students in the classroom asking the question "Do you like science/math/english/etc... class?" or "Do you like the science/math/english/etc.. teacher?"

I made this worksheet quickly, part of a worksheet making marathon that Monday, so I wasn't thinking super deeply about the details or consequences of the worksheet. Therefore, I quickly listed all of the classes they were currently learning: English, Art, Math, Science, History, and, of course, Spanish.

Why did I do this? I have no idea. It wasn't smart. Especially because I was already feeling rather fragile and frazzled at the time.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened, but I will anyways. I walked around the classroom during this activity, and to my deep, gut-wrenching dismay, nobody liked Spanish class. Even worse - nobody liked me.

I tried not to take this seriously. I joked about how they weren't going to hurt my feelings, they could answer honestly. But, honestly, it did hurt my feelings. And it thrust me into a few weeks of a pity party/time of deep reflection/depression.

WHY DO MY KIDS HATE ME?

My kids hate me.

Everybody Hates Me.


This is what was floating through my mind for days. The mantra as I fell asleep, the first thought when I woke up. I'm working my tush off for these kids, and they hate me. They hate my class. This is all meaningless.
So, to be honest, there were three things going on here.

The first thing is that I still hadn't gotten over my distinct and serious desire for people to like me. I have never been popular. I wasn't popular in middle school. I wasn't popular in high school. I wasn't popular in college. I don't know why I thought this would change, but for some reason I still had this deep desire to be liked. And when I realized I didn't have it, a little part of my pathetic self died inside. I would have told you that I didn't care if kids "liked" me, I just cared that they learned. I think I even said something like that in my interviews for LPS. But I guess when the rubber hit the road, my words had gotten ahead of me. My heart wasn't quite there yet. 

The second thing going on - the more important, less pathetic, factor - is that I truly wanted these kids to learn. But in middle school, kids aren't extremely motivated to learn. At least not most of them. There are those few intrinsically motivated kids (like I was) that love to learn and achieve and get A's and work the very hardest they can possible work in order to achieve perfection. We teacher's don't need to worry about those kids. They practically teach themselves.

The kids we focus on are the ones that don't care. They don't care to learn Spanish, they don't care how hard you worked on the lesson, and they even don't really care what grade they get. Not really. These are the ones we focus on. To get these kids hooked, honestly, they have to buy into what you're selling. If I can't sell them Spanish, then I need to sell myself. I need for them to care enough about me that they're willing to work hard for me. And this was my problem. I was seeing a lot of attitude in class because the kids didn't care about me.

The third thing - the most important thing - was the whole reason I came to work at Park, was that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of these young humans. And I realized with this whole experience that I wasn't impacting kids. I was so stressed and frazzled and focused on getting the curriculum shoved down the kids' throats that I forgot the whole mission, the point of being there. These kids have big issues - poverty, abuse, abandonment, drug use (them and their parents) and much more. Learning is important, but so is being cared for.

"The family abode should be a safe and sacred sanctuary where
children can learn and be nourished."
- Saundra Pelletier

The truth is, most of these kids don't have safe and sacred homes that are a sanctuary for them. And for five hours a week, I have the chance to offer them a sanctuary, a place to be nurtured and cared for.

Toni Morrison said that what every child needs - more than correction or guidance or a good kick in the pants - is to know that your eyes light up when they enter the room.

This is my new goal. I may not change the world. I may not make a huge impact in every life. And I may have to taste the bitterness of failure throughout the year in terms of academics. But my new goal for the rest of the year is for my students to know that I look forward to seeing them everyday - that they matter to me - and hopefully they will begin to see that when they enter the room each day - bringing in baggage and attitudes and smelly gym clothes - that my eyes truly do light up.

October 12, 2010

thanks.filled

A year ago this time I was walking through the toughest, most agonizing, most depressed season of my life. Tonight I was thinking about my husband, about how amazing of a man he is, about how thankful I am for this beautiful gift God gave to me.

What I love most about Jeremy is that he loves people so well. He sees me for who Jesus made me to be, the woman I am becoming. He has always fought for me, always held out hope for me when I thought all hope was lost. He is such a man of faith. Within the first two months of dating me he walked with me through the third most difficult depression I have ever faced. Two weeks after proposing to me, he walked with me through the second most difficult depression. Three weeks before our wedding, he walked with me through my bipolar diagnosis. And two weeks after we got married, he walked with me through the deepest, darkest, longest depression I have (and hope to ever) face. He trusted God through every season, and always seemed so thankful to be a part of my life, even when I was depressed and had nothing to offer. He always has treated me like I am a precious gift, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how helpless and hopeless I may be.

A year ago, we went out into the country on a therapy-date and took these pictures - at that time, I found hope in capturing beauty outside of me. That was the hardest autumn of my life, but surprisingly, that fall holds some of my sweetest memories. I have never felt more fully loved, cared for, or cherished.

I am so proud of Jeremy, and so extremely blessed to call him mine. Being loved with a love like this changes a person forever. I will never be the same. 





October 4, 2010

"How did you feel after you finished taking the test on Friday?"

--"Like I don't know Spanish."

--"That I don't know a lot."

--"I felt happy and smart."

--"Hungry."

--"Bored."

--"Glad I didn't have homework."