April 28, 2009

Why I'm a Teacher

Yesterday, I had a "warm fuzzy" moment. I was leaving school for the day when I walked past a student sitting in the hallway. This girl is not one of my students. In fact, she's not even on my team, but I have gotten to know her pretty well because she hangs out in my classroom often. I've learned from my co-workers that this has a history of being the center of girl drama, but she has never once created any problems for me.

Last week, in fact, I wrote this girl up for a "positive referral" because she went out of her way to comfort and stand up for one of my students who was being bullied. I was so touched by her show of empathy and encouragement, that I sent a letter to the front office explaining her behavior. I was happy to refer her because I knew this was a student who needed some positive feedback. She was pleasantly surprised when she was called to the office to be rewarded for her actions. Her mom even put my note on the refrigerator!

When I passed this girl yesterday, I noticed that she was working on her poetry anthology, and she immediately volutneered to show me her work. She was so proud of each page and eagerly explained her topics and photos. Then, she excitedly flipped to the front of her book to read me her dedication. She had dedicated her entire anthology to me, saying how she appreciates that she's been able to come talk to me about any of her feelings.

I cannot explain how touched I was to read that dedication. I don't know if I ever would have seen it had I not crossed her path on my way out of the building, but I am so glad I did! This is why I wanted to be a teacher, to build relationships and to be a mentor to my students. How heart-warming it is to realize that I've been able to make a difference to even one child!

April 22, 2009

Cheating Wisely

My students take a national Word Master challenge three times a year. It is a very difficult vocabulary test that requires students to not only know the definitions of their words (inside and out) but to be able to apply them in complicated analogies. Sometimes I even struggle to figure out the problems, and I have the answer key!

The second challenge of the year was held in February. We spent hours preparing for the test. We created and shared cartoons with mnemonic devices, quizzed each other with flashcards, played review games and wrote our own analogies to practice using the words in context. I was so proud when my students placed 7th in the nation!

Today, my students took the test for the third challenge, but we will never know how they place because we decided to disqualify the entire 7th grade for this meet. The problem was that word got back to me that students were sharing answers with friends who had not yet taken the test. By the end of the day, I had 11 names of students who either told or heard answers on the test. I cannot, in good faith, allow my students to be recognized on a national level when I know they were cheating. Thankfully, my administration was fully supportive in this decision.

The struggle now, though, is in deciding on consequences for the students who played a part in the cheating. There is clearly a difference between asking a friend for an answer and having a friend disclose that information without prompting. But it is nearly impossible to discern who falls into which category.

So how do we reprimand these students accordingly? And what type of consequence (in any) is going to curb this behavior in the future? My co-worker compared cheating to speeding. If you get caught, you don't stop speeding, you just learn where to slow down to avoid further consequences.

If you're going to cheat, at least be smart enough not to get caught!

April 2, 2009

Prayers for Brayden

If you are the praying type, please send some up for litttle Brayden James Peterson. Born Friday, March 27, Brayden was born to my college friend, Tim and his wife, Janele. Immediately after his birth, Brayden was taken to the NICU because he was lethargic and had low PH levels, blood sugar and blood pressure. Doctors were concerned that Brayden may have been without oxygen for a time period, so they are tried a new technology called a coolcap to cool the brain and stop (and maybe reverse?) damage.

After three days in the coolcap, doctors started the warming up process yesterday. have performed several tests to get a better picture of the situation. Inital results from the MRI show that there has been brain damage, but they are not yet sure of the extent (and may not know for quite some time). The good news is that they were not able to see any damage to the grey matter or near the brain stem!

For now, it seemes the seizure activity has stopped (he had about 20 during the warming process), which is more good news. The hardest part, though, is still ahead: the waiting game.

Please pray for the Peterson family. They have already been through so much these past few months with the sickness of their other son, Caden. Give them the strength to rely on God during the tough time and to support each other every step of the way.

Please visit Brayden's website for further information and updates.