Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hard to Write!

I hate answering questions for applications. However, the application process will be worth it in the end. Here are my answers to the application I completed today, as I'm looking to teach in the Dominican Republic in the fall.

1.       What is the most important thing a teacher does?
The most important thing a teacher does is show love to the children. Everything I do as a teacher is a result of love: teach, encourage, discipline, set an example, and share the Gospel. A teacher who loves will do all of these things with passion. Love motivates me to reach each child’s needs. I want each child to learn, to grow, and to love Christ.
2.       What do you consider the proper classroom atmosphere for learning?
Children need to feel comfortable and accepted in a classroom for learning to take place. If a student is insecure, he is more likely to react by shutting down or acting out. As the teacher, I have to set that tone by exemplifying kindness and patience with every student. I also have the responsibility of guiding the students to create the same atmosphere for their classmates.
3.       Describe assessment of academic achievement and how this is best done.
Academic achievement can be assessed in multiple ways. Any time a student improves or learns a new skill, there is achievement. This progress can be assessed by written assignments, verbal explanations, presentations, drawing, and other projects. The topic and the level of learning expected will determine the best assessment. In all learning though, students should be assessed as they are learning so the teacher can monitor progress.
4.       How would someone who knows you professionally describe you as a teacher?
People tell me that I love my students, that I am passionate about what I do, and that I am good at it. I have a hard time writing this because although I know God has gifted me, I always feel like I could do more, or do better, or that I am not as good as people say I am. My former students tell me they love my class because I made it fun for them. Parents have told me their children look forward to being in my class.
5.       How will the students benefit from having you as a teacher?
As I stated in the previous response, this is the type of question I find difficult to answer. I know that God has blessed me with the gift of teaching, and I also believe He has given me the gift of building relationships with the students. I like to view myself as “real” with my students. I do not pretend to be perfect, nor do I expect perfection from them. I expect effort and respect, and my students should expect the same from me. I also think students will benefit from having me as a teacher because my goal is for them to learn how to learn. I can easily teach facts, but my desire is that my students can think, process, create, and solve problems.  I want my students to be independent learners as a result of being in my class. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dad's Life Story Part 3

When I left Okinawa, I went to Hawaii and then to Vandenburgh Airforce Base. Usually your pay records are shipped, but since I was being discharged, I had them with me. They’re in a blue tube. I put four ounces of pot inside and left. Only I can open it. No one asked for my pay records in Hawaii. I was in Vandenburgh for 3 or 4 days. I took my pay records to get my final pay and got my ticket home to Detroit.
I flew home; my mom and Uncle Walter were pretty upset. Everyone was upset with me. Then I got a job at Hazel Park School District as a custodian. I cleaned the high school and Hoover each night. After a year, there wasn’t anything exciting going on. I called a friend who was living in California and asked if he wanted a visitor. So, I got a ticket and flew to San Francisco. I knew him from the military. His name was Roy. I stayed at Roy’s house for about 2 or 3 months.

He was a photographer so we walked around a lot, took a lot of pictures, worked in the darkroom. Roy was getting tired of taking care of me, and we weren’t making any money selling photographs. I moved in with another friend. This was 1970.

He lived in the tenderloin district which was a pretty rough area. We bought and sold pot. Then after a while I met this girl living on 535 Ashbury---that’s where all the hippies were. She would work and I would stay home. I’d go play Frisbee at the park and do stuff. Met some different people. One day I was hitch hiking and these 2 girls picked me up. They asked what I was doing, and I was just looking around. I said I wanted to head up over the bridge toward Marin County. They took me to this guy’s house. His name was Terry. This was in Sausalito. His house was on the side of a mountain—mill valley.

After a few times meeting him, we became good friends. Terry was in a wheel chair. He was in a ‘vette accident and had lost control of his lower body. I would help him around. He had a wife named Sharon who was also his therapist. They offered me a room there and I helped Terry and helped around the house.
A couple of guys I knew moved to Larkspur. I went with them to Larkspur and lived with them, selling pot, acid, but I wasn’t into coke at that time. I didn’t have a job. I just sold pot. One of my other military friends was discharged and came to visit. He told me one of our friends was in Chicago and was heading back to Okinawa to sell some acid. He was a Hell’s Angel. First he came to Marin County to see his family. Then before he got on the plane, we tracked him down to see him. I knew people in San Francisco who sold acid. He bought 2 grams which is 8,000 hits. Then he offered to pay my way back to Okinawa if I would carry it for him. I said ok.

We flew to Okinawa. He said I could have half. He went to visit his people he knew, and I went to visit mine. We sold it for like $3 a hit. I bought some more camera equipment. Things got ugly because people were selling heroin; there were four or five different gangs putting out murder contracts as they fought over control of the area for drugs. I sold about ¾ of what I had. I left the rest with my friend, and wanted to get home. That was enough for me. But while I was there, I started heroin. I brought a little heroin back home.

I’d met 2 stewardesses in Okinawa. They were cool. We had bonfires, smoked pot, dropped acid. When I got back to Marin County, I had their addresses in Manhattan Beach. I went down to visit them; they lived with each other and a brother. That’s where I met Dana. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

He's Running After Me

I was browsing a forum this morning that asked, "Christians, what is your favorite Bible verse?" The verse that immediately came to me was a verse I claimed to be my "life verse" as a child. The verse is Jeremiah 29:13 - " And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

Immediately, I realized why I chose that verse. Growing up, we were all trying to do, do, do. We were trying to earn God's love, earn an external appearance of holiness. When I would read this verse as a kid, it reminded me that I needed to work harder. If I didn't work at being good, work at being Holy, I would not find God. I thought if I had any sin in my life, I would not find God.

I manipulated this verse to fit the lies I'd been taught... that I need to find God. No, God comes to me. He comes to me with unconditional love, regardless of my flaws, my failures, my sins.

What's really happening in Jeremiah 29 is that God IS coming to the people. He's calling them to himself, but they are rejecting. I don't have to run after God. He's running after me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Magical Sunday

I'm a transplant Tigers fan living between the Nationals and the Orioles. Whenever Detroit comes to Camden Yards, I go to all the games. On Saturday, my date for Sunday canceled on me. Finding a last minute replacement wouldn't be easy. Sadly, most of my friends aren't baseball fans, and the ones who are have families and busy lives.

I had a 4th grade student last year who is a huge baseball fan. His favorite team is the Mets, but he's pretty knowledgeable with the MLB in general. I also lived with his family for a couple years, so his family is like my 2nd family. I decided to see if he wanted to go see Verlander pitch on Sunday.

When I lived with them, I'd given JC my old Tigers hat and jersey. He wore them to the game.
We arrived at the park at about 11:30. I figured we could watch BP, which I later found out wouldn't take place. Since the gates weren't open yet, I walked him to the home plate entrance to show where the Detroit Tigers sometimes enter and exit.

It was just as we arrived at the door that a cab pulled up, and Miguel Cabrera got out. I very excitedly sent JC to get an autograph on his cap.

The Tigers won 4-0. Jackson hit a home run, and Cabrera hit one too... 440 feet. Verlander pitched 8 shutout innings. JC said, "I'm so happy to be here. I thought today was just going to be a regular Sunday." I'm so glad my date ditched me.

In retrospect, I'm kicking myself that I didn't get a picture with Miguel Cabrera. That was probably my once in a lifetime chance. I don't care about autographs, but I'm bummed that I didn't get a picture. Maybe someday.*

*I did, however, get a picture with Quintin Berry inside the stadium, so there's that. :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photo Blog Weeks 25-28

Week 28: Red, White, and Blue

Week 27: Up (Upper Peninsula Michigan)

Week 26: Underneath (What you find underneath rocks)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Love, the Trinity, and My Existence

I'll never understand love.
I will certainly never comprehend the Trinity.
Maybe someday I'll fully understand the purpose of my existence.

I'm reading King's Cross by Timothy Keller right now. Two things have struck me so far. One is how the book of Mark and Keller's comments are reminding me of my complete selfishness. The other is the explanation of the Trinity, God's love, and my existence. I won't spend any time on my selfishness today.

The relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one that dwells in community and love... each glorifying the other with all His fullness. In Genesis, God the Father speaks the Word, and the Spirit moves. In the baptism of Christ, Jesus glorifies God the Father, the Father is pleased, and the Spirit ascends like a dove. Each is pouring glory on the other.

In the book, Keller explains that in order for God to be Love, which He claims to be, there must be relationship. If there is no Trinity, then there was no love before creation because love can only be demonstrated through relationship. I found that to be an interesting point. I'm sure people could debate it, but it struck me as thought-provoking.

Love is giving. The Father gives glory to Jesus. Jesus gives glory to the Father. The Spirit gives glory to Jesus. You get it. The perfection of community that exists in the Trinity is possible because of Love.

What does this have to do with my existence?

Maybe when God created man, it wasn't to bring glory to Himself, but to be able to give love to man. Our responsibility then, to complete this community, is to give glory to God, but His purpose is to give love and glory to us. That's community. That's love. This understanding of community and responsibility helps me view God so differently.

God wants to lavish me with his love. In my upbringing, it was always about "do this" and "don't do that." This pleases God. But God isn't waiting around to be pleased. He's actively loving me regardless of what I do. This doesn't leave me blameless. In order for me to experience the fullness of this communion with God, I in turn must glorify Him with all that is in me. I must love Him back. Relationship cannot be one-sided. My love for God does not determine His love for me. His love for me is unrelenting. But when I choose someone/something else besides God to receive my love, I am not experiencing the full communion with God that He intended for me to have. I am only robbing myself when I choose to put my love somewhere else.

I exist because God wants to share His love with me. That is powerful.