Saturday, September 26, 2009

Remind Me Again, Lord~~ WHY Am I A Teacher?

The first several weeks into this new school year, I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. Implementing behavior/discipline plans, learning a whole new curriculum, learning a new school and their systems takes a toll physically and mentally. Some days, I really felt like throwing in the towel. I was questioning my decision to teach, and my abilities, for the umpteenth time. Going from 6 students to 19 is not a piece of cake or walk in the park. lol

For some, teaching is just another career choice. Chosen for the time off or convenient hours. (Almost NEVER for the pay, though. LOL) It is sometimes considered the "perfect career for a mom." (Don't get me wrong--- those are very legitimate things to consider before choosing a career.) For most, however, it is also a calling-- a ministry. That's the way Ann Hanna, my favorite elementary teacher, approached it. That's the way MANY of the excellent, caring professionals I've loved most of my life, approached it. They're the reason I wanted to teach. I never wanted a "job." I wanted a "life calling." When Shelbi entered kindergarten, I went back to school to accomplish that. That was 12 years ago. The first time I set up my own classroom, I felt I'd made it. I was beyond excited! I was going to change the world--- one student at a time. Talk about delusions of grandeur! HA Little did I know how much my students would change ME.

That initial enthusiasm waned over the next few years, even though I know, for some kids, I DID make an impact. I get hugs from 6 feet tall former students when I see them. Usually, I get hugs from parents of those kids, too. I remember most of them. I love all of them. But sometimes I get discouraged and that was going on this year.
Honestly, I hadn't been considering the ministry side of my job very much lately. I was more focused on the "not enough hours in the day" side of it. Until this past week.

For the first several weeks of school, I'd been struggling with a student with discipline issues. The behavior escalated and I made contact with the mother. She told me she'd get on to him, but added that his Daddy had been in the hospital out of town for the past three weeks, was still in there, and she wasn't able to be with her children much. (He had behavior issues long before this, but it explained why it wasn't improving.) Later the principal told me she'd talked to the child's grandmother. The dad had bone cancer and wasn't expected to live! The mom was trying to be with her husband as much as possible, while at the same time trying to make sure her five (repeat FIVE) little boys were taken care of in her absence. So, here's this little boy with a sick, dying father, and an absent (NOT by choice) mom. What a load on a six year old! Several days later, we were told the Daddy lost his fight and a little boy had lost his Daddy. The other children and I wrote him messages and drew pictures. We made it into a book and the custodian dropped it off to him at home. He came back to school the day after the funeral. He was so sweet, hugging on me all day long and me on him. Poor, poor baby. In his homework folder, I found the book his classmates and I had made him. He was safekeeping it! Awww. Helping this child through such a tragic time ~~ what an opportunity for the person he spends 7, almost 8, hours a day with, to show compassion in action! (That person would be me.) What a reminder that my "job" entails more than drilling ABC's and 123's, and that yellow and blue make green. I can teach ~show~ love, mercy, grace, compassion and many other things that WILL make a difference, maybe not change the whole world, but maybe make someones little corner of it better. Pray I continue to grow and learn and that I notice and take every opportunity to minister to my students.

Yesterday one of my students walked beside me, smiled up at me and said, "Mrs. Craft, I just love being in your class." I hugged her, swallowed the enormous lump in my throat, blinked back my tears, and sincerely replied, "That's so sweet. I love being in your class, too."

Thanks, Lord, for the reminder.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Days Behind

I've got to get better at this blogging thing! I have not done a "real" post, except for a quick prayer request, in three weeks. This has been a really busy month for me. Going back to public school has been a tremendous adjustment--- to say the least. For the past several years, I was home by 3:30 every day. So far, this year, I don't think I've left my classroom before 4:00 and then it takes 30 minutes, at least, to get home. There is just SO much more preparation time with 19 kids. And I'm learning a whole new curriculum. I had the other one down pat and could have just continued it forever. Anyway, I come home and read everyone else's posts and then I'm too tired to write on mine.
The main topic this week has been 9/11, of course. I am not usually a very political person, opinionated, just not political. That is slowly changing. However, one thing has remained the same since I was a little girl. I am VERY patriotic! I love my country, my troops, and leaders that I believe have our best interests at heart. Like many other bloggers, September 11 has been on my mind, too. I do remember where I was--- in my second grade classroom, when my principal went door to door telling us that the Trade Center had been bombed. (That is what the news people reported at first.) I'm almost embarrassed to admit I didn't even know where the Trade Center was located. Wish I still didn't. Now, unfortunately, I am quite familiar with Ground Zero. Anyway, in keeping with the name of my blog, I thought I'd put my two cents in.
I try hard each year to instill patriotism in my students. It is sadly lacking in our schools today. Shockingly, sometimes the opposite is being taught to our children. How can we expect them to love and defend our country if we don't teach them to? If we don't set the example?

Two years ago, I talked about that fateful day as part of my kindergarten graduation program. Below is part of what I shared with the parents that day.


When I starting thinking about a graduation theme, the pictures I took of a patriotic mural came to mind. It was painted on a church wall as a memorial to 9/11. I thought about that day in our country’s recent history. All six of your children were infants that day. Two of my grandchildren were also born that year. When I look at this generation I don’t see the helplessness and hopelessness we felt that day. I see the hope of this nation, and our future in their faces.

Every morning we said our pledge and we stood straight and tall like soldiers and placed our hands on our hearts because “we love our country.” I hope they’re always proud to be Americans. I hope they never take our freedom for granted. I hope they are always grateful for the sacrifice of others that guarantees our right to the pursuit of happiness. I hope they never grow weary in well-doing and that they’ll fight to preserve our freedom of worship. I hope they realize they can make a difference and that they can change this world. I believe we’ll be in good hands.

We know they can be anything they want when they grow up, because we live in the greatest nation in the world--- the United States of America.

This is what we should be teaching our children, not by mere words, but by our actions. God first, then family, and then our country. Well, that's my opinion and on my blog, my opinion rules.

I hope I gave you something to think about, especially now, when some leaders in our country want to "play nice" with suspected terrorists. In the words of John Stossel, "Give me a break."

My sweet friend, Casey, did a great post on that! You can read her insightful words HERE. I loved it and agreed wholeheartedly.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


A dear friend of mine, Lisa, lost her precious mom this morning. She was a sweet, funny lady. Every time I saw her, she made me smile. She recently line danced at her granddaughter's wedding. What a precious memory that left Emily with! She and Emily already shared the same sense of humor. =) Mrs. Nell worked in our public library for many years and will be missed by everyone in our town. I will surely miss her. I was sick this morning when I found out. Please pray for the Arnold and Cater families. Thank you.