Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review--Sparks & Riordan



We're only two months into the new year and I've already fallen behind regarding the books I've read that I pledged to keep track of. Just a couple to share feelings about this time around:

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
To be fair, I should begin this review by stating that I don't like books written by Sparks. I watched (yes, as in the movies...) A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle and The Notebook so I get the idea that Sparks may be the kind of guy who dwells in the unrealistic world of the hopeless romantic (with extremely depressing endings). That said, when a student of mine brought me this book and said I just "HAD" to read it, I was less than agreeable.

Yet I have determined that if my kids are willing to read a book, I will also read said book so we can discuss the subject. So I read. I maintain that I am correct about the unrealistic world of the hopeless romantic. Sparks does have a narrative style that makes it easy to read his works, and I find the characters relatable and understandable. But the selling point of this book? The ending. It wasn't what I expected AT ALL, but I was totally amenable to the way it ended. If you can manage to stomach all of the "blah blah blah-love-of-my-life" garbage that I rarely find palatable, you may actually learn something realistic from the end--that marriage is sacred.

The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
I totally realize it's a kid series, but that's not going to stop me from reading. I have always loved Greek Mythology and all of the trivial characters that make up that web of interesting. Riordan has the talent and skill to take that mythology and weave it into a character that is both fun and interesting. It's easy-reading fiction that serves to heighten the sense of hero-will-overcome-evil mentality. I haven't read the last book yet, but I'm really looking forward to what I assume is Percy's final stand against the Titans.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Latent Maturity


Yesterday I got a snow day. Chris and I took advantage of my day off (and his!) and spent some nice time together.
On a side note, I will admit that man is so much more than I deserve.
Back to the subject: One of the reasons we headed to Marion was to pick up the new Women's Bible study materials which you see so nicely displayed to your left (appreciate--because without Kate, I would've never figured the picture-thing out). When we walked about of Lifeway, I was just a little overwhelmed with excitement. I texted anyone I could think of just to let them know I'd picked up materials and I was pumped about the study.
Here's the fun part: I really AM pumped. I generally look forward to Bible study, but it's been a while since I felt such a sense of joy at having the opportunity to facilitate something so far beyond myself. One of my New Year's resolutions was to enjoy my relationships--God included--and I believe He's beginning to honor that commitment.
Sometimes people coming out of a really dark place are overwhelmed by any sense of light available. That's not where this newfound sense of appreciation is coming from. Instead, while I recognize that really dark place, I'm also getting to recognize my Savior's constant presence--in dark places, in light places and in places where I have deemed Him unwelcome. I'm not enjoying Him because of what He can do for me or because He "brought me into this world and can take me out"--though both of those are completely true. I actually think I'm enjoying Him because of who He is.
Is it possible to finally experience a glimpse of maturity? Quick, someone tell a fart joke so I can see if I laugh or not...haha.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Because I apparently expect too much...

I am a high school teacher. Since I educate at the secondary level, there are few things I expect out of my students. Here, I'll provide a list:

1. I expect that students can make it to class with all of the necessary materials (yes, this does include a writing utensil). From time to time, I understand that something may be forgotten, but that shouldn't be the norm.

2. Among those necessary materials, the student should possess his/her homework. I don't accept late work because it's too difficult to keep on track of how many days late and how much of a percentage off I should apply to different assignments. Instead, I have simplified the process and will just give a zero to any work that is not present when it is due. Realize, of course, that this means your student will be required to be responsible for his/her own work or he/she will have to deal with the consequences (usually a grade that is affected by a zero).

3. I expect students to understand what is/is not appropriate behavior in a public setting. I know students will talk from time to time, and that doesn't bother me. I will not, however, tolerate "random announcement hour." I've had a few students who've felt the need to let me know of certain medical conditions or belted out grades or problems with that particular class with no apparent understanding of the word "discretion." Seriously, I wouldn't consider myself a punitive teacher, but don't think I'm going to tolerate loud declarations of "This sucks!"; "I HAVE to pee"; or "WHY are YOU failing me?" in the middle of my lesson. If you don't want them to yell it out in the middle of the grocery store (or church service) with you, I don't want them to yell it out in the middle of my class.

4. Along with appropriate behavior in a public setting, I also expect that your student will understand the form and function of respect in the classroom. Whether I like or dislike them, each student receives the same education and the same amount of attention if he/she needs help. I respect their needs as students. YOUR student, however, will need to understand that whether they do or don't like me, they still have to treat me in a manner suitable to my position. Just to clarify, I am not their servant, waitress, garbage collector or personal butt-wiper, and I will not be undertaking any of the responsibilities required for those occupations. (PS. If you want them to respect me/my position, you will probably need to teach them to respect you as a parent. Just saying.)

That really sums up everything I expect from your student in the classroom. That said, I do EXPECT from them. Hard work and laziness both have consequences, but I would appreciate it if you would realize that it's my job to dispense consequences for a behavior executed by YOUR CHILD.

In the end, I expect students to take responsibility for their work, their time and themselves.

Is that so much to ask?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Be Amazed--Be Changed

I sat and talked to a co-worker today about workplace environment and relationships among co-workers. Actually, that's probably intellectualizing our conversation. We were talking about people who are catty in the workplace. There. That's more accurate.

Anyway...that conversation got me to thinking about my role in the workplace and how much I contribute to the things I don't like. I couldn't help but modify the words of a song I love: "Oh, the differences that often are between...who we really are and who we want to be."

I shuffled music during my time in the gym today and heard, "There's no such thing as perfect people. There's no such thing as a perfect life...so come as you are--broken and scarred. Lift up your hearts and be amazed, be changed, by a perfect God" (Natalie Grant). I think it's become my theme song (and it will be my next special at church!). And while I listened, I couldn't help myself: I thought about all the ways I lack--my mouth being of particular precedence lately.

It's not just about language. It's about being the kind of person who is trusted because she is constant, reasonable and fair--particularly in light of all the differences in personality. When people think of me, I want them to think I'm polite, kind and consistent--but I mostly want them to think I'm consistent. It's where I lack the most and what I want the worst. Odd how that happens sometimes.

At the end of the day, I guess that's one of the few things that identifies me as "Christian," and I'm not sure I've been doing such a great job of flashing that identification.