Friday, February 23, 2007


This week has been full of ups and downs.

One moment I'm asking myself, "How do I think I could ever be a teacher?"

Another moment I'm loving this whole teaching thing.

This week felt like there were more downs than ups. I started helping with the track team this week, and that's been fun.

I feel like I have not been "connecting" with students the way I want to, and that is one of the toughest parts.

Today I called home parents of students who are failing, and had a really frustrating experience with a father who basically told me the reason his son is failing is because I'm boring and "uninspirational," basically, because I'm not my supervising teacher. He did thank me for calling, however, as did the other parents I contacted.

Either way, it was a conversation full of hard words, and I'm trying to process it.

Thank you Lord for Fridays!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ahhh..3 day weekend

1/6th of the way through the semester! But who's really counting?

Things are much better than they were the first week. I'm feeling more confident and continuing to learn new things every day.

I am trying to figure out how to respond to a student who I believe has some strong racist viewpoints, and is letting me know through assignments and class discussions. I don't think this student is super obvious to classmates, but obvious enough to me. Do I confront him? I probably will talk to him, since his papers include racial slurs and inappropriate comments. I hope and pray that something I teach the class will come through to this student and break some of his blatant ignorance about race.

Today I told me colleagues at school where I teach that my husband is a Quaker, and they immediately jumped into asking if he wears a tall, black hat, and all the other stereotypes. I was surprised at how little they knew.

Happy President's Day!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday AM

Not too often in my life have I ever been certain that Christ is speaking to me in a direct, verbal way. Many times I have thoughts in my head, but question whether they are Christ or not. But today, I heard and obeyed.

Michael is gone for the weekend. I got up and walked to church by myself. The pastor spoke about the Year of Jubilee. It was an OK sermon, nothing profound really spoke to me. At one point I got a little squirmish. The pastor was referring to jails in the time of the Bible, and how prisoners were usually slaves, because murderers were usually stoned to death. Then, as a side note, he said, "by the way, capital punishment is God's idea." And that hit me the wrong way. The pastor then went on to share about how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, specifically referring to setting people free as the Jubilee was intended. And my inner-monologue thought, "Didn't Christ also come to fulfill (or change, I don't know what word to use here?) other Old Testaments ideas, like capital punishment?"

Forgiveness, specifically learning to forgive others, has been a huge theme in my life over the years. And I cling to the notion that Christ wants to give people the chance to seek forgiveness, even murderers.

But, back to my morning. I came home from church and made myself an Americano. I sat down to begin working on school/planning for the week. I am overly stressed about my lesson plans, especially considering how I felt leaving school on Friday. But I got a "nudging" (for lack of a better word) to get my Bible out and read for a while. I realized that I need to have my mind and heart at rest and clear, before I can dive into looking to the week ahead.

I am working on reading the Daily Bible this year (the Bible in 365 chronoligical readings). Right now I am reading Exodus, specifically when the Israelites have just left Egypt and are wandering around the desert.

Two thoughts came to my mind:

1) God takes honoring the Sabbath very seriously. I need to take it more seriously. With the crazy week I've had, and will continue to have, I need to allow one day of real rest, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Otherwise, I will have a breakdown before this semester is over.

2) I need to call my brother. He (and his new wife of about two weeks) have been on my heart for weeks/months. There is a lot of bitterness and anger wrapped around my family, and it hurts to be a witness to it. And I need to be more of an advocate.

So, I felt like God was saying, "Melissa, call your brother. "And I kept saying, "But I don't know what to say. I'm hurt that I wasn't at the wedding. I don't know what to say or do." And the Voice laid on my heart, "Call him right now. I will give you the words. Just do it." I opened my phone, pulled up his number, and then closed it. "Do it!" So I called him, and left a message on his voice mail, offering to bring him and his wife dinner sometime (they are extremely busy and also have a one-and-a-half year-old). I didn't know that I was going to do that, but I felt like that's what Christ was asking me to say. Will he take me up on the offer? I doubt it. But I will keep calling and keep trying.

You are the only One that can bring healing and forgiveness to my family.
Help me to trust you to do this work in your timing, and not mine.
Meanwhile, keep me sensitive to your Holy Spirit
and to the work you are doing in me.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Common question asked by students

A poem from one of my textbooks from Willamette. I love it!


Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
on earth

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren’t here

By Tom Wayman (originally from The Astonishing Weight of the Dead)

Friday means Week 1 is OVER!

Friday has never been so glorious.

This has been one of the most draining weeks that I can remember.

I started student teaching on Monday. I was nervous, but also excited to get into the classroom and get to know my students. There's only so much planning that can be done before you meet your students.

People keep asking me how this week has gone. My answer depends on the day of the week (or the specific class). Some days I came home thrilled and more excited about teaching. Other days, or even just after certain classes, I would be frustrated and feel deflated. I think I'm just really hard on myself. So, I answer the question of how it all went by saying, "well, I've realized I have a lot to learn." Which is the point in the first place; so that's something positive, I guess.

Today was the tipping point. I have one class that I had a hard time getting much response from (or at least, that's how it felt). During the last ten or fifteen minutes they were working on a writing assignment, and I had to fight to hold back tears. That of course frustrated me because I wasn't exactly sure why.

After school I went to talk to my supervising teacher, to try to "debrief" the week, and I couldn't get anything out because I was fighting back tears as hard as I could. I couldn't make eye contact, because my eyes were glistening and I didn't want him to see. Mostly, I just felt dumb. I will probably tell him next week that that happened, because I have been able to process it some. But at the time, all I could think was, "don't cry, don't cry, don't cry."

I got out of there as fast as I could. I called Michael, and while the phone was ringing I started balling. So much so, that when he answered his phone I could barely get any words out. He couldn't even understand me. We both know that I build up emotions and then need to just cry them out, sometimes for no specific reason. Often, something really tiny sets me off and then I ball and ball, and I can't put my finger on why.

I am a big crier, and have to just accept that. This week was draining physically. I came home every night and was exhausted, and usually in bed before 10. (Which is a big deal for me). Plus, I have been getting up at 5:30 every morning, and I don't think I've ever gotten up that early this consistently (and will continue for the next five months).

Besides being my first week of teaching, I had class every night until at least 7. So, Michael and I would both get home between 7:30 and 8, maybe watch American Idol (while he was also still working) and then head to bed by 9:30. So, we haven't spent much time together this week either.

To top it all off, he had to go to Twin Rocks this weekend for a retreat, and I had to be in Salem this weekend, so we won't see each other all weekend, either. I think our schedules have taken a toll on me as well.

So, it all came crashing down as the week drew to a close: I cried, talked it out with Michael, went home, "freshened up," and rewarded myself with a "Snickerdoodle": a white mocha with vanilla and cinnamon from the coffee drive-thru around the corner.

I am a big journaler, and blogging is a good way for me to process the week. Hence, the long blog!