February randoms.

1. It has been awhile since I posted a picture of Little Miss G. She is eight and a half years old now. I don’t write about her as much because, well, she’s older. And she wants more privacy. And she doesn’t bust off with hilarious, unedited commentary the way her sister does. (See below.)

2. Today is Super L’s 5th birthday. To celebrate, John took them to Dairy Queen. (I was at work otherwise I would have beent here, too.) Super L was sitting next to John, and as they sat enjoying their ice cream, John (ahem) passed gas. A few moments later, he noticed that SL had stopped eating her ice cream. When he asked her why, she responded, “It has toot on it.”

3. Tula is feeling so much better that she has reclaimed her title as Royal Pain In The Arse Extraordinare.

4. Oh, and happy belated 3rd birthday to this little ‘ol blog ‘o mine.


Where’s the 10-foot pole when you need one?

Okay, so this lady. Do I feel her pain and frustration at trying to teach–of being held accountable to teach–students who seemingly have no interest in learning? Sure, I do. Have I, in a moment of frustration, vented and pronounced judgments and labels upon certain students or groups? Probably. But I did it behind closed doors to my spouse or my parents or my friends whom I trust. And, most importantly, I did not do it to make pot-shots at my students’ expense.

And that is my biggest problem with Mrs. Munroe’s actions. Her words read more like insults, no matter how “symbolic” or “about-no-one-in-particular” or even how truthful they were. And worse, the purpose of the insults seem to be, in part, to entertain herself and her readers. At that point, she positioned herself as an accusor instead of an ally and compromised what I believe is an intrinsic level of trust placed in teachers.  You are there because you want what is best for students. That you are there to help them.

This does not mean that I think teachers should shine sunlight up everybody’s fannies, either. I could say that every student wants to learn they just need to be properly motivated… Or that students don’t fail the system, the system fails the students. I could say that… but that isn’t reality. The reality is that there are troubling and unpleasant truths to tell about education, about students, about teachers, about schools–about the whole shebang–just like there are unpleasant truths to tell about all the endeavors of humanity. But I’ve never adopted the philosophy that you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. I’ve never supported the idea that truth can be weilded as a weapon simply because it’s true. Just because the truth just hurts sometimes does not mean that the truth-teller can be just as harsh and unmeasured as they desire.

Finding that measured level of honesty without harshness can be difficult. There have been plenty of times I’ve had to inform a parent that their child’s performance and/or behavior has been unacceptable. And every time, I feel a little anxiety about what the parent’s reaction will be because I want the information I give parents about their children to be accurate, and truthful, and I want to be fair. As long as I am fair, I believe that the parents and students will see me as an ally, even if they do not like the truth that I had to tell. Ms. Munroe’s comments strike me as unfair to her students.

And just to be perfectly fair and truthful, this generation of young people have have some absolutely beautiful, spirited, talented, bright, kind, outstanding individuals.

I’ve often wondered if the things I’ve written here will ever come back to haunt me. If you were to comb the archives, yes, you would find a few colorful choice of words. You would find a few posts in which I sound-off about the state of education and my job. However, I’m pretty confident that even when I was frustrated with my job and vented here, I did not turn my frustration upon my students–although I will admit that at times some of them really deserve it. I would never want to say or write anything that would cause my students to question whether or not I see the goodness in them…

…Because I do see it. Every day. I really, really do.

What was that I said about “unpleasant and unforseen circumstances”?

Yowser. Not 48 hours after I hit the publish button on that last post, wherein I mentioned things looking slightly up financially, my dog went and ate something inedible. One surgery and $3,000 later I am trying to remind myself that God knew about this and the money will be there. I’m grateful that this particular animal hospital will let people pay off their bill, interest free, as long as it is paid off within 12 months. We certainly had other plans for that three grand that we don’t actually have right now. And this is exactly the kind of “unpleasant and unforseen circumstances” I was hoping to avoid. But the upside? Now I know how much I really, really love her. She’s going to be just fine…. Dumb dog.

Moments of grace.

2011 has been off to a rather interesting start. We have had something like eight snow days in the first six weeks of this year, and I firmly believe this has been by God’s design. This extra time at home has given me more time with my kids, and more time for reflection. I’ve been able to think more about where I’m heading in terms of family and career rather than run the gauntlet of my typical week.

Good things are happening. I have a new church home and I love it. I love their approach to missions and their focus on reaching out to the homeless and the “invisible” suffering and the marginalized right here in our own communities as well as supporting an orphanage in Mexico. The teaching is Biblical, but something that I can chew on throughout the week and keeps me wanting to go back for more. I’ve been able to connect with a small Bible study group. And, it is no small thing that my husband and kids seem to enjoy it, too. That, truly, is an answer to prayer.

Our long-term goal of getting a larger home is finally close enough that we can start talking about them in terms of “next year” rather than in terms of “hopefully,” “maybe,” or “the three-year plan.” Of course, even if we are able to purchase a new home next year, it is still a hopefully, barring any unpleasant or unforeseen circumstances. But, even if we cannot, it feels good to know that we are moving in the right direction in terms of financial stability.

These last six weeks, I’ve been able to do more “heart”work and soul-searching and trying to make sure that my motivations are good and God-honoring as it pertains to my goals and desires. I truly believe that God is going to bless us in the months ahead…I just have to be sure that remain patient and obedient with His timing, and to faithfully continue the work He has given me to the best of my ability. 2011 has had some real moments of grace and clarity and peace, for which I am extremely grateful.