End-Caps

End-Caps

When I was just a little freshman, my first PIU Friday-night activity looked something like this:

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Tonight was my last Friday night as a PIU student; next Friday I become an alumnus.  Here is a glimpse at my final “Friday Night Frenzy.”

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I guess that inflatable bungee races are the end-caps to my college career.

Retrospect

Retrospect

I am 10 days away from graduation, and I have spent the entire day doing three things:

  • Packing my dorm room
  • Completing numerous “exit interviews”
  • Playing Scrabble

Currently, boxes and bags are strewn around me, one of the exit surveys is open in another tab on my computer, and I am trying to make a word out of LESONRV.

I have mastered multitasking.  But I can’t finish the exit survey.  I am stuck at the question that says:

Retrospect

If you could begin college again, would you choose to attend PIU?

I wish that “I don’t know” was an option.  On one hand, I have loved my time here.  I have made great friends, learned how to be a teacher, and grown closer to my Savior.  I don’t regret choosing PIU.

On the other hand, my interests have changed.  If I could start over, I would major in graphic design or photojournalism or video production.  As a result, I wouldn’t attend PIU.

I am weighing my answer because the survey assures me that all of my responses are “valuable input.”  I think about all of the memories that I would have missed if I hadn’t attended PIU–dreaming aloud with my roommate late at night, walking downtown to get smoothies, slowly tubing on the New River, bravely fighting cockroaches with my cousin, sledding the hill at Sparks Field, playing kickball in the pouring rain, throwing spaghetti noodles on the green, teaching 30 fifth-graders for 16 weeks.  These were the best of times, and I would have missed all of it if I had attended a different college.

So I think my answer is “yes.”  Yes, if I could begin college again, I would attend PIU.

Oh…and I just made the word ROSE for 29 points.

T3: What You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

T3: What You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

I don’t dive into anything without research, so you can believe that I read numerous blogs and books before I started student teaching.  However, there is a lot that you cannot know without the experience itself.  Here are a few things that the student teaching experience taught me.

10 Things You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

1. Student teaching will be the hardest thing you have ever done.  I like to think that I have done some hard(ish) things in my life.  But I can assure you that student teaching was the most challenging of them all. Writing lesson plans, controlling thirty 10-year-olds, grading papers, trying to get enough sleep, and not to mention actually teaching consumed every second of my day.

2. You can’t quit.  Despite the difficulty, you have to keep the end goal in mind.  Every night, I would think, “Okay, only 117 more days until I graduate.  It will all be worth it when I have that diploma.”  With time, 117 days turned into 67 days, 37 days, 17 days, and eventually, 1 day.

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3. You won’t sleep.  Even if you manage to make it into bed, you won’t really sleep. At least, I didn’t.  I would lay in bed reviewing all of the lessons that I had taught, wondering what I could have done to make them better.  Then I would begin mentally preparing for any lessons that I had to teach the next day.  When I finally reached a stage of “sleep,”  I would dream about school.  Basically, I taught all night long.

4. You will love your students. Sure, they will drive you insane when, for the 18th time, they ask where they are supposed to turn in their reading test.  Yet, you will love them.  You will love walking into the classroom each morning and listening to their excited chatter about pandacorns and mermaids.  You will love it when they give you notes that identify you as “Mrs.” instead of “Miss” and make you feel like your mother.  You will love it when they claim that they have NEVER had so much fun in science.  You will love it when your underachieving student makes an 87 on a test.  You will love them, and they will become the reason that you write lesson plans, grade papers, and never get enough sleep.

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5. You have to schedule time for exercise.  I learned this lesson too late into the semester.  I think that my first 8 weeks would have been easier if I had allotted 30 minutes per day to just watch YouTube videos while doing a PIIT workout.  At the beginning of March, I set an alarm for 8:00 every night.  When that alarm went off, I stopped whatever I was doing to exercise.  The next 8 weeks were much less stressful.

6. It’s a very short time. As my mom told me at the beginning of the semester, “It is only 75 days (of actual teaching).  You can do anything for 75 days.  You can scoop manure for 75 days.”  (At the time, I told her that I would rather scoop manure.)

7. It gets easier. After the first few weeks of thinking “What am I doing?  Why did I think I could do this?  I am literally going to die from exhaustion.  The students aren’t learning anything”,  you fall into a rhythm. I will never forget facing a whiteboard to write a spelling word and thinking, “OMG!  I am actually teaching!  The students are actually listening!  This isn’t so bad.”

8. Organization is key.  I used approximately 7 different colors of pen, 6 pocket folders, 5 file folders, 4 binders, 3 calendars, 2 planners, and 1 overloaded Google Drive (I swear that I didn’t exaggerate for any of those) to prepare for each week.

9. Everyone makes mistakes.  Learn from them.  Most afternoons as I reflected on my day, I thought, “That was a dumb mistake,” but my dumb mistakes taught me to ALWAYS model the desired outcome, ALWAYS tell them where to put their finished work, and ALWAYS follow through on expectations.

10. Common Core math doesn’t make much sense.  It will make you feel like a chicken teaching fish how to climb a tree.

 

 

I Wish I Had Time

I Wish I Had Time

I wish I had time to tell you all of my student teaching stories.  I still have 23 class days to go, but I am already armed with an arsenal of student stories, enough stories to fill a separate blog.

I wish I had time to tell you about the first time that I taught math.  I later compared the experience to a fish teaching chickens how to climb a tree.  Thankfully, the second day was more like a squirrel teaching chickens how to climb a tree.

I wish I had time to tell you about when we tried to melt butter on metal spoons.  It was my first science lesson, and the science teacher said that the kids were “ready to start a mutiny.”  Then the butter melted, and they thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I wish I had time to tell you about how a girl threw up on her way into English/Language Arts, and five kids left “sick” within 1/2 hour.

I wish I had time to tell you about when I poured alka-seltzer into Diet Coke to start science class.

I wish I had time to tell you about playing grudge ball.

I wish I had time to tell you about the students that thought they were reading about a “cham-e-lon” instead of a chameleon.

I wish I had time to tell you about the girl that wrote a letter to Sunbutter.  Here is an excerpt:

Another reason that I am so fond of Sunbutter, is that it is processed in a facility that doesn’t handle any peanuts or tree nuts.  It states this fact on the label, meaning that it’s true.  If this wasn’t true, then it would be false advertising, which is illegal.

I wish I had time to tell you about the girl who does back tucks across the soccer field during recess.

I wish I had time to tell you about the Chromebooks that didn’t work when my school advisor was there to observe me.

Since I don’t have time to do all of these things (in fact, I have to read 60 more pages of Because of Winn-Dixie tonight), I hope this post will suffice.

Top Ten Tuesday: Dear Freshman Me

Top Ten Tuesday: Dear Freshman Me


Today at 9:30 am, I will attend my last class at the undergraduate level.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I will take final exams, and next semester I will be a student teacher in a fifth grade class.  Lord willing, I will graduate in less than five months.

Looking back, I realize that some of the emotionally challenging days of college could have been avoided.

10 things I wish I could tell my freshman self

  1. God is God. You are not.  Trust His plan, and don’t try to fix it.
  2. Be humble. Be a servant.  Be like Christ.
  3. Treat your body like God’s temple. Worship in it, but don’t worship it.
  4. The accolades really don’t matter, so don’t get too engrossed in the competition. Enjoy the challenge for how it is building you individually.
  5. To have friends, you must show yourself friendly.
  6. Enjoy the moment because it is all you have.
  7. Quit worrying about money. God will supply your needs.
  8. Wear your polka-dot rain boots. Wear your green shorts.  Wear your flowy skirts.  Don’t be embarrassed by your quirky style.  When you finally get brave enough to wear those clothes in your junior year, you will get a ton of compliments.
  9. Get involved in school events and at church. You want people to know who you are.
  10. Perfection is unattainable. Quit trying so hard.

I would never claim that college is easy, but the past 3.5 years have been some of the most rewarding years of my life.  As I learned the ten truths that I listed above, I have grown emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.  I have seen God’s provision to pay for college and missions trips.  I have seen God’s sovereignty to orchestrate convenient class schedules and amazing summer jobs.  God showed His grace by sustaining me through difficult classes and long nights.

Truthfully, student teaching terrifies me, but I must “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.”

  • God will continue to provide for me.
  • God will continue to orchestrate His plan.
  • God will continue to graciously sustain me.

Meanwhile, I will believe the ten statements that I want to tell my freshman self.

Top Ten Tuesday: Banned Books Week

Top Ten Tuesday: Banned Books Week

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Everyone who loves reading has done it.  We stay up well past the time that we should go to bed just so that we can enjoy one more chapter of our current book. Sometimes these books are stealthily hidden beneath blankets and read with flashlights so that parents will not know what we are reading.

This week, the American Library Association is honoring “banned books,” which are books that have been outlawed for various reasons including language, morality, religion, and illustrations. In my opinion, every book worth reading has been banned for some unnecessary reason.  Also, banning books only serves to stimulate a child’s curiosity and build their desire to read the book.

Below are my favorite banned books, the reason that they were banned, and why I loved them.

  1. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – People claim that it supports pessimism and has no literary value. I love The Wizard of Oz because it taught me how to think imaginatively and beyond concrete reality.
  2. The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket – I will be the first to admit that Snicket’s books are disturbing.  However, Snicket is one of my favorite authors because of his unique tales and unprecedented vocabulary-teaching ability.  Besides, Snicket is not even a real person, so can we blame him for being bizarre?
  3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain – Mark Twain has been called racist, and there is foul language in the book.  Nonetheless, this classic tale teaches history and loyalty.
  4. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – Some parents do not like that the series includes “coming of age” topics and homosexuality.  I loved the series because I could relate to Alice as a teenage girl.  Yes, the book did include “secular” content, but we live in a secular world.  As Christians, we should be in the world;  we should know what is happening around us.  However, we are not of the world, and we will not agree with everything that the world promotes.
  5. The Giver, by Lois Lowry – The Giver includes violent misdeeds such as euthanasia and infanticide.  However, it is also a story of love, breaking the status quo, and bravery.
  6. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George – Violence and offensive language are the two main reasons that certain adults have tried to censor Julie of the Wolves.  I appreciate Julie’s bravery, the story’s adventure, and George’s attention to culture.
  7. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein – Silverstein tends to be sarcastic and sassy.  One of his poems says, “If you have to dry the dishes, And you drop one on the floor, Maybe they won’t let you Dry the dishes anymore.”  Parents saw this as promoting disrespect and disobedience.  I happen to love Silverstien’s dry humor.

  8. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis – After reading this book, parents worry that their children will become disobedient and mischievous for the sake of adventure.  Christians also criticize Lewis for animalizing Christ.  On the contrary, Lewis wrote Narnia as a metaphor of Christ’s suffering, not a sacrilegious attack.
  9. If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss – The country’s view of ethnicity was vastly different in the 1950s when Dr. Seuss wrote this book.  That is why he included the line about helpers who “all wear their eyes at a slant.”  My family spent quite a lot of time at a few different zoos when I was younger.  Basically, my brother is Gerald McGrew.
  10. Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park – Like so many other child heroes, Junie tends to be bratty, disobedient, and rude. However, these well-intentioned books simply seek to tell the story of childhood from the perspective of a first-grade girl.  Let’s be honest–what child isn’t bratty, disobedient, and rude at times?  The key is that parents should use the book as a way to discuss proper behavior with children.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: How to Fail a Class

Top Ten Tuesday: How to Fail a Class

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Today I start my senior year of college.  How bizarre, crazy, and unfathomable is that?!  Since starting school seventeen years ago, I have learned a few things about education, and I would like to impart some wisdom to any new college freshman.

Most people enter college with the goal of graduation.  But who wants to be like everyone else?  Make your own goals!  Blaze your own path!  Aim to drop out!  Here are my ten recommendations for successfully failing  a class.

  1. Ignore the syllabus.  In the syllabus, the professor will list any test, quizzes, papers, and other assignments.  Do not print out the syllabus.  Do not read it.  Do not even access the file on your computer.  Even glancing at a page of the syllabus may lead to passing the class.
  2. Procrastinate.  If you happen to know that an assignment will be due, try to avoid completing the assignment at all costs.  Only students who desire to pass a class actually complete any of the coursework.
  3. Oversleep.  Professors are pleased when students arrive to class on time and fully prepared.  In order to make failing easier, do not set an alarm or prepare anything for class the night before.
  4. Goof off.  Once you do get to class, let your mind wander away from the professor’s lecture.  Instead, scroll through Instagram or watch YouTube videos.  Whatever you do, refrain from listening to what the teacher is saying.
  5. Refuse help.  It is possible that a classmate will offer to give you notes, help you organize your calendar, or tutor you.  Do not accept any of these offers as they may lead to success.
  6. “Wing” the tests. Studying is a sure-fire way to pass an exam.  This could be detrimental to your goal of failure.
  7. Neglect the textbook.  Do not read it, open it, or sleep with it under your pillow.  In fact, it will probably be best if you do not buy it.  Ideally, you won’t even know what the text book is called.
  8. Forget about homework.  If this is not possible, feed homework to your dog.
  9. Skip breakfast.  Eating may provide energy which would increase your likelihood of paying attention and being productive.
  10. Be aimless.  Set no goals other than the goal of failure.

Disclaimer:  Following these ten steps may lead to becoming becoming a college dropout.  In such cases, one might have a sense of inadequacy, failure, and depression.  Consult your parents and mentors before engaging in any failure-driven activities.