Educate me, please

As many of my students will remember, I’m big on bringing up current events, history, and moments of major change to inform our understanding of the fiction and nonfiction we address in various classes. I’ve been adding to my Contemporary Era section which has meant reading quite a bit of news and digging up related, interesting information (not all of which makes it into the Miscellany—my 300+ pages document covering everything I think is important for my students to know in order to be well-rounded, critical thinkers).

The news over the last couple of weeks has prompted this latest revision. I try to keep my bias to minimum and I try to be accurate in how I word my notes so that I can be accurate with the information I give my students and the directions I point them toward for finding additional information.

I’m sure there are some errors in this section of notes (typos and facts), so please feel free to let me know where to look or what you know that I might want to include in this document.

Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read through my Contemporary Era notes. Thank you to anyone who drops me a line on WordPress, Instagram, Twitter, or via email.

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As the year ends, I’m looking toward next fall.

How do I do a better job balancing how to meet my students where they are and challenging them to do better?

I feel like I know most of my failings: I’m not as funny as I think I am; I’m too slow at getting things graded, because procrastination has always been my thing; I give too many chances; sometimes my attempts to help misfire; sometimes I forget to think before I speak; sometimes I just get cranky.

I think my strengths all relate to building good relationships with many of my students. Kids need to know someone believes in them; they need someone to believe in them. They also need someone to push them to try harder, get better, get ready for life. I’d like to think I do that, but I’m not really sure. I know I’m not the person students remember as “getting them ready for college”. I want to meet them where they are and help them get better. I want to encourage them to make smart choices. I want them to go on and become successful by their own measure.

Many of my former students have gone on to become great adults. My measure for success is whether or not they are taking care of their children, their bills, themselves. I love running into some of them around town. I get to see kids who were genuine jackasses in class as real adults who are taking care of themselves and their lives. I get to see kids who barely graduated working in job and careers that fit them incredibly well. I get to see kids who had bump after bump after poor decision bump figure themselves out and redefine success for themselves.

I’ve never really wanted to be anything other than a teacher. I have racked up many failures and I still have some kids who cannot stand me (which, fair) and I have moments that taught me a lot about people, myself, and I have learned from those moments. I just always end the year feeling like I have so much to fix, to do better…so many ways I need to be better.

Thoughts from Tonight’s Discussion 

People often imply that my faith is somehow less pure, less academic, less than theirs in general.

I may have an unusual view of my earliest churches, but what I remember shaped my faith as much as The Bible or my parents did. I remember being told not to take a pastor’s word as law, to seek out the truth in The Word for myself. This has led to reading Thomas Cahill like he’s going out of style. Seeking out, completing, and mentoring an Education for Ministry class. This has led to conversation on dorm hall steps, over bottles of wine with dear friends, in a car with my brother and father, on decks over “communion” with other friends, across long tables with cousins/aunts/uncles about faith and God and what it means to be a follower of Christ. This has led to arguments about why being “born again” doesn’t make me a bad person/conservative freak/whatever.

I grew up with “Jesus freak” proselytizers, active youth group hypocrites, and the mirrors where I faced my numerous shortcomings. I may always be a little angry about being made to believe in my teen years that I could lose my faith, that shyness meant others could label me a “stuck up know it all bitch”, that my seeking was somehow not belief/faith.

Now I try so hard not to show favoritism in my classroom (public school) regarding religion that I occasionally get in a bit of trouble for trying to make kids atheists by “telling lies” and such; if they only caught every third word, they may be surprised I see myself as a Christian.

I swear too much, drink too much, don’t do enough, and push too much to be a “good Christian”. I have never questioned God’s existence, Jesus’ divinity, or the Holy Spirit’s quiet voice. I always question myself. I completely judge the crap out of little things. I am not very good at being a Christian and I know that. It doesn’t actually make me not a Christian.

I know things don’t always happen for a reason.

I know that we get handed more than we can handle so we’ll be forced to ask for help.
I know that when we seed the wind we have no idea where the whirlwind will sprout or who will be forced to reap it.

I know we reap other people’s whirlwinds—that’s why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to everyone. Sure, we are often responsible for our own good and bad, but we aren’t always.