I love teaching

September 6, 2007

I wanted to write last week… it was my first full week of school. My 7th graders are wonderful. I have a total of around 50 of them (25 in one class and 25 in another class). All of my co-workers who looked at me in horror when I said I was going to teach 7th grade will be surprised to hear that this specific group of 7th graders are well behaved, well trained, intelligent, funny, and loveable. I know that this is a special group of kids though because everyone here (teachers) says that they are. I guess that through the years, this particular class has stood out as a really good one. So praise God that He gave me these kids for my 1st year of teaching. My 8th graders (math) are also really sweet. I’m especially thankful that they didn’t throw tomatoes or sharpened pencils at me when I couldn’t figure a working-backwards word problem.  Since that incidence where I couldn’t solve the problem in class on the board in front of my students, I’ve been working every homework problem at home the night before.  The next day I had all the answers…  It’s uncomfortable to not know the answer in front of the students.  Lesson learned… word problems are hard… have compassion on the students… and try to solve the word problems at home the night before.  In math, I had to write 3 names on the board yesterday because they were talking while I was teaching, but after those 3 names, everyone knew I was serious. The math class I got was the math class for students who don’t immediately get the concepts. I love it because I love to explain every step… step-by-step… and I’ll take them back to basics if they don’t get it (like yesterday we reviewed that a negative times a negative is a positive… and three minus negative three is the same as three plus three). I hope they are getting it. My high school science elective class is going OK, however it is the most challenging for me. The students took their 1st test today and the average was an 85… not bad!! And the spread was 65 min to 100 max. Overall, they are getting it. In that class, I have to study before every lesson because I’m not an expert in this science elective class… but I love the topic and I hope next year I’ll be a pro at it. My Bible class is going well, however, last week I asked the students to write questions that they wanted me to answer. One girl wrote “No offense, but I get kind of bored in class. I know you are a new teacher, but is there any way you can have us do more activities so we can remember what we are learning?” This was only after day 1 – syllabus review, day 2 – dress code meeting, and day 3 – begin reviewing their summer reading book. My feelings were a little hurt, but other teachers told me to keep on doing what I’m doing. My lesson plans look OK to them. And I have thought of more group activities to get them more involved.

I should mention that during the 1st full week of school, my schedule was crazy – 5:30am wake up in order to read and get to school by 7:30am… teacher devotionals at 7:45am… 6 classes in a row with a 30 minute lunch break…done at 2:55pm…left school by 7:00pm… quick dinner and then worked until 11:30pm every night. Friday I felt like I had jet lag. This week, I’m not doing that. I’ve been leaving work at 5:30pm. I got a little crazy with the planning and activities on the 1st full week and I overdid it. My co-workers tell me to pace myself.

I’m half way through my 2nd week of classes and I’m loving it. I know that I’m going to have to put in extra hours of work, but what I love most is getting to interact with the students (my favorites are the 7th graders). I get to talk to them, I get to encourage them, I get to know them, I get to teach them about Creation…

Other perks of teaching: A huge office (the classroom), two huge windows (in the classroom), immediate access to a door to go outside (vs. cubical life), Christian teacher co-workers (they are great), a Christian boss, and vacations…

I got my 1st paycheck last week and it was less than 1/2 of what my paycheck used to be, however it is enough for what I need, I think… It matches up with the budget I created last year before I decided to leave my engineering job for teaching.


I survived!

August 26, 2007

Thursday was the first day of school and I survived. Wow, it’s a fast pace… class after class after class. I decided to give myself permission not to worry about taking attendance because I was more interested in making sure I had everything else going smoothly. Attendance would have required me plugging in my computer, remembering the log in and password to get on the net at school, and then logging into our online attendance system with a different login and password. Complicated, but I was able to do it on Friday. And I had lunch duty on Thursday too. The middle school group is outstanding – well behaved, intelligent, cute, and respectful. The high schoolers are great except for a few who have that look on their face like they could care less about what I was saying. BUT, overall, I’m really excited about the year.

It’s going to be an extremely busy year. I realize that with a lot of planning, the day runs very smoothly and everyone has fun (me & the students). I like to know where papers are and make sure the students have stuff to do at all times. I did a lot of Q&A in science on Friday and I think it went well.

Next week I told the students (the middle schoolers) that we were going to dissect a potato. Some of them got wide eyed… then I told them I was just kidding. Actually we are going to do a controlled experiment with manipulated variables and responding varialbes using a potato. One half of the potato will be exposed to light while the other half of the potato will be kept in darkness. We’ll count the spuds coming off after 1 week and again after 2 weeks. I thought about doing the keeping flowers fresh lab, but flowers are more expensive than potatoes…

Friday we had chapel. We’ll have chapel every Monday and Friday. Chapel consists of worship music and a short message. As I was sitting next to some really nice teachers and singing worship music, I realized… I’M AT WORK!! Praising God at work!! I love it.

Today I planned lessons from 1-7:30pm. I met up with a friend for dinner and felt good to have a break. But planning lessons is fun because I really like the topics. The high school science topic is intimidating because it isn’t my specialty. The middle school topics are less intimidating. And Pre-Algebra is just plain fun.

It’ll be good to keep a journal on this blog. I know there will be trials too. I also want to give thanks and praise to the Lord for this blessing He has prepared for me and given me. And I want to say and believe that everything I do is all by His strength. But I try hard and I forget to ask Him… but I need to take time to continually ask Him to help me with planning and what I’m going to say and how I’m going to keep up the energy to do this until May! God is so good.

From American Institute of Biological Sciences Website

August 8, 2007

01/17/06 Science Education Lawsuits Continue in California

Lawsuits involving science education and evolution continue in California, with the latest involving a school’s offering of a four-week high school elective entitled “Philosophy of Design.” A group of parents is suing the school district to force it to cancel the course at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec.

During the high-profile Dover trial in Pennsylvania, where a judge decided last month that the inclusion of intelligent design in a public school science curriculum is unconstitutional, some scientists stated that intelligent design might be applicable to a class on culture, religion, or philosophy. The problem with the Frazier Mountain course, according to the lawsuit, is that it advocates rather than examines intelligent design. Of the two-dozen videos on the syllabus, only one was not “produced or distributed by religious organizations” with “a pro-creationist, anti-evolution stance.” As for the two evolution experts listed as class speakers, one was a local parent and scientist who had refused to speak to the class (and is now included in the lawsuit), and the other was Francis Crick-who passed away in 2004.

A course description, according to the New York Times, stated, “This class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin’s philosophy is not rock solid.”

Lawyers from Americans United for Separation of Church and State are representing the parents. The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the leading intelligent design group, has sought to distance itself from the course by writing a letter to the school district stating, “The title and nature of this course are problematic and appear to misrepresent the content of the course and intelligent design. Sum We respectfully request that you either reformulate the course by removing the young earth creationist materials or retitle the course as a course not focused on intelligent design.”

09/12/05 Creationists sue University of California

The latest creationism battle may be fought in federal court once again. This time, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California, and students at the school have filed a complaint because of a UC policy that rejects high school biology courses that use textbooks published by Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books. The books have been described as “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.”