teaching

My Morning Prayer

Giving word cloud, Genotar / Shutterstock.com

Giving word cloud, Genotar / Shutterstock.com

Dear God,

As my son Zeke says in his daily prayers, so I say in our prayer this morning, "Thank you for all of the good things in the world."

One of those good things happened to me when I stopped by the water company to pay  my bill. I walked into the building and stopped at the receptionist's desk to borrow a pen to write the check. I heard a family behind me and turned a saw a small child leading her mother by the hand, a mother carrying a baby in the cradle of her arm. The child listened to her Mother speak to her in Spanish, then looked at the receptionist and asked in English, "Can you show us where to pay our bill."

Suddenly and surprisingly the child looked up at me and threw her arms around me in a happy hug. "Mr. Barton!" she said. "I'm glad to see you, Mr. Barton!"

Love Bug: Kids Flourish When We Focus on Their Strengths

Close up look at the common dragonfly.

Bralyan loves bugs.

I met him during the first week of school as I conducted the standard assessment of how many words he could read per minute from a second-grade story. After the assessment, I gave him the customary caterpillar sticker to put on his shirt to show everyone that he was going to emerge as a great reader during his second-grade year.

You would have thought that I had given him a piece of gold.

"Oooh, I love bugs," he marveled as I handed him the sticker. "I have seen caterpillars around the trees at my apartment. They spin a chrysalis and turn into butterflies.

“Have you seen a roly poly bug?,” he continued. “They're my favorites!"

And so a friendship began around the pyrrharctia isabella, the armadillidum vulgar and other bugs that make up the most diverse group of animals on the planet.

This interaction told me some crucial things about Bralyan. It told me he is a smart kid, and it also told me that keeping him engaged in school would likely include bugs.

I later learned that Bralyan and his family moved here from Mexico when he was a baby. His mom and dad speak only Spanish at home. He speaks English at school.

Music and Domestic Tranquility

Hands of music teacher and student, Anna Jurkovska / Shutterstock.com

Hands of music teacher and student, Anna Jurkovska / Shutterstock.com

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union ..."

I heard these words for the first time in a song when I was a kid. I was pouring a glass of orange juice in the kitchen when I heard it. Bugs Bunny had ended. I was waiting for Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids to begin. There was the familiar refrain of Schoolhouse Rock in between those cartoons. 

"As your body grows bigger, your mind grows flowered, it's great to learn 'cause knowledge is power!" And there it wasthe Preamble to the U.S. Constitution in song. I learned it and never forgot it.

When I became an elementary school teacher, one of my goals was to teach my students to sing the Preamble.

Awful Leads to Wonderful

Farming illustration, Konstantin Sutyagin / Shutterstock.com

Farming illustration, Konstantin Sutyagin / Shutterstock.com

Being a teacher is like being a farmer. You rise early in the morning. You irrigate and fertilize the field that is your classroom. You plant the seeds that are reading, writing, and arithmetic. You hope for good soil, warm sunshine, and gentle rain that are good homes, healthy foods, and adequate healthcare for your students. You work with your hands, feet and heart with your plants who are your students. 

Your harvest is your students. 

Your winter season of fallow fields is your summer break of empty classrooms.

Helping Billy Inherit the Earth

Child holding the earth, olly, Shutterstock.com

Child holding the earth, olly, Shutterstock.com

I try to teach in the present. With Billy, though, I found myself thinking about the future. Will middle school be a challenge for him? Will he be an outcast in high school? Or a target for bullies?

I wondered what contributions he might make to society as an adult. Would he start a revolution in the art world?

If his peers constantly slap their hands down and say there's no room for him, how will he react? Will he become a part of what author Alexandra Robbins calls the "cafeteria fringe, those people who are not a part of the school's or society's in-crowd? Because he seems different, will he be labeled geek, nerd or weirdo?

As a teacher I want to help him overcome. But what can I do?

Simply Seeing

Infographic by Immigration Policy Center

Infographic by Immigration Policy Center

Nikki Haley, the governor of my state, recently signed the South Carolina Illegal Immigration and Reform Act. The law, which is part of a recent wave of state immigration legislation, goes into effect in January. As she signed the bill, she stated:

What Im concerned about is the money were losing because of illegal immigration in this state. The money thats lost in education and medical services and workers and employment and all of those things is well beyond millions of dollars …”

It is dehumanizing when you refer to people only in terms of money. Further, the research does not support the governors statement.

According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented workers in South Carolina paid $43.6 million in state and local taxes in 2010. Another study outlined the losses to the state if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from South Carolina. The state would lose $1.8 billion in economic activity, $782.9 million in gross state product and approximately 12,059 jobs.

Recognizing Greatness in a First Grader

Stack of classic books, sergign / Shutterstock.com

Stack of classic books, sergign / Shutterstock.com

There is a wonderful scene in Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird where the all-white jury has returned an unjust verdict against Tom Robinson. Atticus Finch begins to wearily walk out of the courthouse. His children, Jem and Scout, are in the balcony with the black folks of the county. They all rise as Atticus walks out — except the children — so the Rev. Sykes says to Scout, Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your fathers passin.

During the first weeks of school, Scout's story came back to me as I was benchmarking the reading levels of our first- and second-grade students. Before I took the students through the benchmark test, I asked them open-ended questions and listened to their answers. At first they were shy, as children often are when they meet a new teacher. But soon they were telling me their stories with confident voices and dimpled smiles.

Sunday Sermon Superfans: An Introduction

Pulpit of St. Mary le Tower in Ipswich, UK. Via Wylio  http://bit.ly/wTWgaL

Pulpit of St. Mary le Tower parish in Ipswich, UK. Via Wylio http://bit.ly/wTWgaL

Did you hear a particularly good sermon, homily, teaching, preaching, lesson or message this Sunday?

We'd love it if you'd share it with us.

Please email Cathleen (cfalsani@sojo.net) with links to audio, video or text versions of the message you heard, and we'll share the best of the best with the rest here on God's Politics.

 

Tom Wicker, 1926-2011

I am one of those who still prefer ink on paper to pixels on a screen.  But no matter how you get your news, the passing of a giant is worth noting. Tom Wicker, reporter and columnist for The New York Times for 30 years, died on Saturday. The Times described him as “one of postwar America’s most distinguished journalists.” 

Wicker was a meticulous reporter and a passionate advocate, so much so that he was sometimes criticized for overstepping the bounds of objectivity.  But when faced with the major events he wrote on, how could he not be?

Pages

Subscribe