Teacher Seeking Approval

It was the middle of a Tuesday and I found myself picking the date for an announced observation for the following week. We settled on December 12th at 8:45 am. That score will play a big part in determining my LOE score that will tell, at a quick, convenient glance, what kind of teacher I am. It’s hard not to absorb identity from that number. It feels like approval or disapproval. It feels like someone has pronounced judgement on my worth as a teacher.

Sometimes, in the midst of the hurry, the pressures, and worries of this time in the semester, I forget that those things are not the sum of my life, or even the sum of my present circumstances. I have to stop and remind myself that this person’s approval may be pressing, that activity may be urgent, this work may be threatening to consume my time, but that is not all of my reality. The tyranny of the urgent will always be there, but there is always more. Everything in life- the good, the bad, and the in-between (including scores and observations, and human approval, praise, and judgement… and life outside of teaching) – all those things shape me, but they have no say in who I am now and what I have for eternity. God has that say:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do… Eph. 2:4-10

According to Ephesians 2, because Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, came and brought me salvation by dying for my sin and rising again, this is my reality: I am loved by God with great love. I am God’s own handiwork, so I belong to him. I am created in Christ for good works, so the work is his, not mine. My future is not uncertain because God has prepared it in advance. God desires to show me the incomparable riches of his grace. He shows me great kindness in Christ. He gave me true life when I was dead in my own works and my own heart of hatred and defiance against him. As Paul tells the Ephesians to remember, I also remember that I was once without hope and without God in this world. I almost can’t bring myself to say those terrible, soul-shaking words aloud: without God in this world.

I need to remember that, so that I can remember this: because of God’s great gift – one I did nothing to deserve- I have received approval by the One from whom it matters most. And I am no longer without God in this world… or in eternity to come.

So, whatever comes today or the tomorrows that follow, as believers I hope this will always be among the first of our thoughts: I am no longer without God in this world. And may we remember all that that truth entails.

Whatever is pressing or clamoring for attention, he always has been, and always will be more. His is the approval that matters most, so that we can live in true joy and seek to please him as we walk in all the good works – at school and elsewhere- he has planned for us to do.

Prayer:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:16-21

Classroom Culture: Thanksgiving Pumpkin, Day One

What my fifth-graders were thankful for this week. ❤️

Supplies needed:

2 minutes

Largest pumpkin teacher can carry

Sharpie

The question: “What are you thankful for today?”

Directions: repeat daily until December 1.

Result: Smiles and redirected hearts after the Halloween craziness.

Giant Word Find

Laminate poster-sized sight-word word find and staple to presentation boards. (Glue gun won’t keep it mounted…) add paper copies for students to keep, a dry erase marker, and expo wipes (not pictured). I used binder clips to hold the presentation tri-folds together for easy assembly/disassembly/storage. :) This is for an outdoor school event and has 5 sides of advancing levels of word finds. The students really enjoyed it!

Using My Teacher Voice

“Wow, I was using my teacher voice. I actually missed that.”

I couldn’t believe that was a thought from my own brain. Yet, there is was. Even more shocking… it was true. I really had enjoyed using my teacher voice.

This teacher voice, however, was not the stereotypical one my students aren’t supposed to make me use.

brooklynmeme-teacher-dont-make-me-use-my-teacher-voice-11oz-two-tone-black-mug-mug_183645_4_22632054

Oh, I have that one, too.

Then the realization dawned… I have more than one teacher voice.

And so do my teacher friends. I have heard many, many teacher voices coming from down the hall and in my own classroom.

There is the teacher voice that yells above a noisy classroom.

A teacher voice that quietly talks to a student about their struggles at the teacher desk.

The teacher voice that is raised in anger.

The teacher voice that is upbeat and cheerful.

A teacher voice that is firm in discipline.

The teacher voice dripping in sarcasm and bordering on disrespect.

A teacher voice that almost sounds like singing – lilting and lyrical.

A teacher voice that is smiling.

A teacher voice that is sad.

The teacher voice that is tired and discouraged.

I’ll admit it.  I’ve too often used the wrong teacher voice. My students got an exasperated voice when they needed a patient one. I taught about main idea and details (for the 500th time) with a tired voice when my students needed interest and energy.

Some days I may feel like Charlie Brown’s teacher projecting wordless, almost intonation-less mumbling in front of a classroom, but in actuality my students hear what I say.  Maybe more importantly, they hear how I say it.

School’s out for the summer, so I’m looking forward to the next year. One goal is to own my teacher voice (all of them) and make conscious efforts to use the one my students need… and leave behind the one they don’t. Do I think I will always succeed? No, but there is the grace of transparency and admitting when I’ve used the wrong voice. When I talk to my students about my voice, they understand their own.

Self-controlled. Lyrical. Firm. Smiling. Sad. Respectful. Laughing. Clear. Strict.

Patient.

Kind.

 

I+Have+A+Teacher+Voice-CM_4GKMFVF.png

Brown Bear Song and Craftivity

2016/12/img_6457.jpg

The only thing better than teaching a class of the cutest kindergarteners on the planet is getting to sing with them. One of my goals for my ESL kindergarten class is to encourage them to talk as much and as soon as possible… without letting them know that’s what I’m doing. Songs and chants are invaluable for reaching this goal (even with adults).
So, when we were working on sight words “look”, “see”, and “me”, our weekly book activity was ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear’. (As an aside, this book is great for noun/adjective order, animal names, and color word review… and questions/answers). We reviewed our sight words, then read part of the book and students read them in the text. We sang this song from YouTube, which is basically the book put to music. As a review of the story, students had to correctly color the animals on our retelling paper (available here). I modeled how to use the paper to retell the story (with a couple eager helpers) They then decorated their bear, added the googly eyes (which they loved), and mounted on a popsicle stick to make a puppet (they are almost as crazy about puppets as they are about singing). They could then practice retelling the story to each other with their bears. One child would ask the question, one would answer. Some of the kids sang the song to each other or as they were working.
This activity was a hit- all of the kids were singing, almost all were talking! And they were having fun while practicing their language skills. That makes this a keeper in my book!

Also, check out this blog post for more fun ideas and get more printables here!