Monday, August 27, 2012

A Blessed First Day

I'm not absolutely certain that any teacher feels like everything is perfect for their first day of school.  I do think that most teachers feel like they are ready for the first day.  I woke up this morning ready to go to work.  My classroom was set up, I had the knowledge and information that I needed, and my lesson plans and schedule were in place.

Everything went well.  I love, love, love my students.  My schedule worked out perfectly.  The children enjoyed the activities and I got a great response to my light table and iPad games and books.  Was it perfect?  Oh, no.  But it went well.  I am getting to know my students and I know that absolutely, unequivocally I am blessed.  I wish I could show the pictures I took of my students, but I can't.  If you saw them, you'd agree that they are precious.

Jesse and Lily had a great first day, as well.  They love their teachers, and I am so pleased to have been able to see them throughout the day.  I got to see them during both lunch and recess for a short time.  They come to my class at the end of the day and have snacks and play.  This whole situation has turned out better than I could've hoped for. 

Jacob and Matthew had a good first day, as well.  However, Mom doesn't take "first day" pictures when you're in 9th and 12th grades.  ;)  It seems crazy to me that Jacob is in his last year of high school!  Have two high schoolers blows my mind...
Though my feet hurt and I am very tired, I am happy.  I asked one of the deacons at church for a blessing for today, and I definitely feel blessed.  Now, to go back tomorrow and have another good day...
Many blessings,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Learning Takes Us Places!

The classroom is really taking shape.  Brian and I worked on it this weekend.  He helped me put up this bulletin board, which turned out really well.  Underneath the table is the light table, which is not quite finished.

We went to IKEA this evening and purchased some LED lights and a support structure to support the lights underneath the table.  I'll post pictures when it's finished.  Brian and Jacob will be putting it together in the next day or so, before our "Meet the Teacher" Day on Thursday afternoon.  I've got several sensory/fine motor activities to use with the table, and I'm anxious to get it all set up.  Light tables cost quite a bit of money, but if this works out, we'll have made one at less than half of the cost.

Lily, Jesse, and their friend, Jett had fun playing games on the computer while we worked.

It's been a real challenge to get the classroom together when I've been involved in training nearly every day.  I really appreciated Brian coming up on the weekend to help me.  The kids have come up to help me, too. :)

I came in on Thursday of last week, and the ladies that I work with in the classroom, the paraprofessionals in the class, had brought in the colorful rugs seen in the pictures below.  They really add the bright colors that the classroom needs. 

Brian mounted the lights above the cabinet.  They provide a nice, soft light when the fluorescents are turned off.

My projector is now tilted downwards, toward the SMART Board.  The rug defines the area where our morning activities and the reading area will be held.  The book shelf in the reading area was a hand-me-down from one of the teachers.  I felt that it was a bit too unstable to use in an upright fashion, but when laid on its side, works very well. I bought the canvas bins sitting on top of the book shelf at Wal Mart.  

Another sideways shelf. The rolling drawer cart was repurposed from another classroom, and the other AVLS teacher, Jazz, gave me the colorful shelves on the left.  In this free play area, I plan to have a bulletin board above the shelves that will feature student work.  I will store learning toys in bins in the shelving unit.  Science activities will be stored on the colorful shelves.
Brian got a really good deal on the fridge.  Students' snacks are stored in the drawer bins, and the microwave is one from our media room upstairs that we really didn't need.  We popped popcorn in it while we worked! :)

After it rained a week ago, we discovered a leak in the ceiling in my classroom.  After the extensive remodel, there were about 14 such leaks throughout the school.  We're really grateful to have found the leaks now, before the classroom was completely set up.  It does present a problem for me, though, in that I can't put up my bulletin board on that wall.   :(

Tomorrow, I'll be at a district wide training all day.  I really appreciate that my district gives us so much information and support.  It will certainly make my first year as a teacher easier, because I'm being given so much information to aid in making my first year successful.  

Each day, I am more and more amazed at how good God has been to us.  I am enjoying my work and I'm being made to feel welcome by my fellow faculty members.  I feel blessed beyond measure.

Many blessings,



Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting My Classroom Ready

The view of my classroom from the doorway.  As you can see, the Smart Board and projector are already mounted.  There is an intercom system to the right of the Smart Board, and my desk will most likely sit underneath it.

Construction is nearly finished at my school.  I was able to go and work in my classroom for a few hours Friday morning.  I cleaned, unpacked boxes, and began putting things away.  It was nice to finally have the opportunity to get into the class and start working.  There is still quite a lot to do.  I couldn't get into the school over the weekend, because the floors were being waxed.  I took a few pictures of the classroom before I left:

Empty shelves!

I love the windows!
The boxes in the center of the room are now unpacked, and a couple of the lockers are holding supplies.

The classroom has two large whiteboards.  The student computers will be on this end of the room.

Unpacked boxes---feels like an accomplishment!
While I was there, a group of young men brought down another cartload of boxes for me to unpack.

I managed to get a few things put away.  I'll need to purchase storage containers to organize the math manipulatives.

I will put a refrigerator and a microwave on top of this cabinet.  I have supplies in the drawers, and the box contains my laser printer.

I attended First Year Teacher Academy today and again tomorrow.  I won't be able to work in my class again until Wednesday.  I hope to bring the kids with me to help me get things sorted out and the rest of the boxes unpacked.  I need my strong boys to move tables and shelves around.  There are so many things I'd like to have for the class, but I have to pace myself and wait to see what I really need.  I have to admit that it is fun putting the class together.  I am so grateful for this job.  I worked several hours without a break and didn't even feel tired.  I think I was just so happy that it didn't feel like work.  :)

Many blessings,


Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Child With a Miracle In His Hands

Brian and I served as shepherds at Royal Ambassadors (RA's) and Girls in Action (GA's) camps this past week.  RA's and GA's are missions education organizations for school-aged boys and girls begun by the Women's Missionary Union over 100 years ago.  I have been helping out with the GA's on Wednesday nights, ostensibly because Lily is now old enough to join, and I wanted to share the experience with her.    Over the course of the last week at camp, we had the opportunity to participate in worship services every day.  The featured speaker was Pastor Russell Rogers, senior past or Trinity Life Baptist Church in Garland, TX.

Pastor Russell shared some wonderful messages.  I will be meditating on the Biblical truths shared and received during this last week for several weeks to come.  Since it is Sunday, I thought I might share a part of the message that Pastor Russell gave on Thursday evening.  The message comes from Mark 6:30-44, when Jesus feeds the 5,000.  The title of the message is "Brown Bag Special".  Pastor Russell read the focal passage, in which a little boy gave Jesus all of the food he had in order to feed the hungry crowd that had been listening to Jesus speak (We find additional information about this story in John chapter 6.  It is in this passage that we find that one of Jesus disciples, Andrew, brought a little boy to Jesus who had five loaves of bread and two fish). 

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[a]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Pastor Russell gave the following points: 
  • Jesus knew that the child held a miracle in his hands.
  • The boy gave what he had.
  • The boy have all he had.
  • Jesus used what he gave.
The boy had a choice before him.  He held enough food for himself and no one else.  If he gave half, everyone would be fully fed, except the boy, who would only get half a meal and would go away hungry.  If he gave all (which he did), then every need was met to abundance--for today and tomorrow! 

Pastor Russell said:  "Totally given means to take things out of our control and to place them in God's control." 

Finally, Pastor Russell asked us to evaluate what is in our bag; our talents, our gifts, and our possessions.  Jesus wants our obedience.  What will we give Him?

I liked that Pastor Russell emphasized the part of the child in the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.  We often forget that the little boy is a part of the story.  I had never heard a sermon on this passage that illustrated how giving all of what he had satisfied everyone--including himself.  I liked the way that Pastor Russell spoke to the GA's, building them up where they are; their age, their gender, etc.  We often forget as adults that Jesus ministered to and through children.  This passage encourages me to remember to give my all to the Lord.  It also reminds me that Jesus will use whatever I give--no matter how feeble my efforts may be, He can take something that is small and increase it and make it abundant.

Many blessings,


P.S. Please check out Casey's Heart, a ministry to the homeless begun by Pastor Russell's son, Casey.  He shared the beautiful and heart-renching story of how the ministry began.