Thursday, September 27, 2007


So far I've been told by 2 different people to watch this video. I did today. Turn the sound up and watch it. It's good.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

God Winks

Cool story: "God Wink" :-)
I went to Beaner's yesterday after class, because I thought Mandy might be working, and I wanted to have a "date night with Jesus" where I just read my Bible a little and journaled about what was going on in my life/prayed. I showed up there at about 6:15 and didn't end up leaving until 9:30! Funny thing is: I didn't read or journal hardly at all! When I first got there, before I even walked in, I saw the front page of yesterday's Tribune: "Lending Ears to Learners" with a photo of a deaf child with a cochlear implant above the fold! I was shocked and so I obviously had to buy it (even though my grandma probably saved it for me anyway) to see what it said.

I wasn't impressed, but that's another story for another time. Basically I just think that parents and deaf individuals need to make their own decisions. They can't rely on research that is skewed one way or another, and they need to hear both sides of the story, not just one biased view toward oral education and speech training or sign language instruction.

Anyway, off the soap box....
So I was sitting reading, and Mandy comes up to me and asks if I can help her sign. I met a deaf man that was at the coffee shop waiting for a friend, but can't get back into his car, because the door is broken. I make some phone calls, but most of the places that'll be able to help were closed because it was almost 7:00 on a Friday night. He then left to go get some food, but I stayed...I learned during this time that there was going to be a Deaf Social gathering at 7:30 or so, and I met some interpreters in training from LCC and a Deaf man from NC. :-)

I decided to join them (of course) instead of keeping to myself, and I had a great time chatting with everyone there. There were so many MSU deaf ed'ers there, too! That made me proud. :-) Turns out that the friend the man with the broken car was waiting for was my friend that I tutored last year! We all chatted after awhile and thought it was funny how everything all connected. :-) We got the situation resolved, finally, by calling a tow company that couldn't get the door open (which would have cost $45), but ended up breaking the window (for free!). Another funny thing about this whole situation is that the guy that came to try to fix the car/open the door is in the same criminal justice program at LCC as a friend of mine, and he's starting to learn ASL soon...maybe in January. :-) It's a small world. :-)

I loved it. I really did. It's good to have some reassurance that my passions are still where I'm headed. Help me, Lord, find out where my passions specifically lie and how they can be used for your kingdom.

Settling Down

I'm already finished with 3 weeks of school! It's hard to believe that so much time has passed already, but at the same time I can't believe that so much has happened in the past 3 weeks.

Things are settling down, which is a good thing. It's becoming a lot more comfortable being in the classroom, I'm learning my role a bit more, and I think my CT and I are learning to communicate a bit better. Oberall, i think my big stress week was really a lot of emotions coming togetehr and making it seem worse than it really was because it was so new. Now that I'm starting to have more of a routine, life is much more consistent.

Let's see. The elementary school is good. :-) It is still challenging, especially managing behavior in the classroom. I just don't have the experience yet, and there are 21 kids, so it's hard. I'm learning as I go. We have some difficult students, but I think their main problems are that they are frustrated. Of our 21 students, 15 are below grade-level in reading. 10 of them are 2 grade levels behind. This makes for difficulty when we want them to work on something independently. If they can't read the directions, the numbers, anything, they get frustrated and don't want to do it. Other problems are stubbornness and anger management, but they are also in process.

Things I'm learning about myself in all of this school process are vast. I'm learning how I naturally react to problems in the classroom, and whether or not that is effective. I'm getting to see how my personality fits into the routines we have established, and how I might start things in my own classroom. By observing other teachers, I'm also seeing the wide array of options available...we really don't need to "recreate the wheel"...there are SO MANY good ideas that we can share with each other! It's not going to be about what new and creative idea I use. It's going to be more about how I use what I've seen to be effective in a way that fits my personality and teaching style. I've also seen my sinfulness, and that of the world as a whole... I just get angry or frustrated/irritated sometimes. I react in ways that I know I do not want to react, but they are what come out first. I know there will be some sanctification in process, and I'm starting to learn what Jason meant when he said God was teaching him a lot about patience his first year teaching...

College is also going well. The two classes are so different, but the concepts that we are discussing really are connecting. For example, yesterday in class 1 (our "collaboration" class) we talked about problem solving. Certain problems (especially when it comes to educational placement of a child) are "ill-defined," meaning they have no clear-cut solution. Those are the hardest to solve collaboratively, because there are so many other options/ideas to weigh and discuss. We practiced this in role-playing. Then, in class 2 (our "language development" class), we are collaboratively problem-solving. We are working on case-studies involving real teachers, students, and parents, creating a wiki where we can share our research and proposed solutions as well as discuss the outcomes of whatever interventions occur. It's really cool, but completely different than any other class we have been in. I like it when things connect, though. :-) Our other "class" is a seminar, and this week we had a speaker about behavior management. It was good! I learned a lot, and got some more ideas about how to start things when I have my own classroom.

Outside of elementary school and college, life is good. I don't do a whole lot, but I'm hoping to get involved in a church pretty quick. There are 2 options so far that seem realistic and potentially where God wants me, but I don't know which one yet. I'm actually just going to one for the first time tomorrow. :-) The first (that I went to last weekend: The River) is a church that seems very similar to Riverview, which would be good. I even met a couple that are about my age.... The second (that I will go to tomorrow: Lighthouse Chapel) seems really cool because the services are in ASL, and the pastor is Deaf. I'm excited, even though the pastor won't be there tomorrow, I'll at least get to experience it a little bit. :-) I'll keep you posted on what I learn.

I think that might be all....
I have a lot that I need to do this weekend, but I know it'll all get done. God bless, and have a great night!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Emotional Overload

I've finished week one of my internship. And what a week it was.

I don't know if it's hormones or what, but I've been exceptionally emotional this week. Wednesday was the first full day for students, and it was a stressful day for them. Almost at the same time, 3 boys were in tears. The first was because he is a perfectionist (yes, he's an 8-year-old perfectionist) and was not finished with the first worksheet when the second was handed to him. The second child that cried was because he was either feeling very sick or pretending to feel very sick so as to not do his work (yes, we have an actor on our hands). The third was a boy that all of the teachers have been telling us is problematic. He does have anger management issues, but I've noticed that it starts with him being frustrated that he cannot keep up with the pace of the class. This was the case on the first full day of school. I went to talk to him, to see what was wrong, but he had completely shut down. My CT (cooperating teacher, the "real" teacher in the classroom) was able to talk to him and let him know it's okay to catch up later. Another girl came up to me matter of factly and said, "We had a house fire yesterday," then proceeded to explain it as though it's no big deal

Needless to say, when I got home, I was beat. There are so many emotions that fly in the
classroom during the day. It mentally drained me, and I am not even in charge of anything yet! The kids are starting to wonder what my role is in the classroom, and I am too. ;-)

I came home Wednesday and made the mistake of reading through the Intern Handbook with all the expectations listed. I just really feel as though I'm not there and never will be there. I know that this year is a process and I'm not supposed to be there yet, but it still stressed me out to read all that is expected of me this year. I cooled down by walking on a treadmill while I read for my classes. :-)

Thursday I learned that my CT expects me to start teaching math on Monday. Wow. Her other interns have taught math from the beginning, so I suppose I will, too. In that regard, I feel prepared and unprepared at the same time. My CT has given me so many ideas that her other interns have used. All are good ideas. On one hand I want to use the ideas, because they are good ones. On the other hand I don't want to use them, because then I'm copying off former interns. I don't know what she expects of me, so my mind is conflicted.

Add up those two different areas of expectations vs. reality and add my graduate classes that each have their own expectations. That equation equals Jess having a minor breakdown on Friday while talking to my Field Instructor (professor that comes to observe me teach). I just needed to cry! Friday was a rough day, but I was able to sit down and have a date with Jesus at Beaner's later that night, and get a lot of what I had been repressing out. I had a good cry, a good pray, and some reassurance from the words of Jeremiah. It was good. I need to do that more often, be more real with my emotions and get them out in spoken words to God and to people! So often I have a loop of unasked questions in my head playing over and over again because they are questions that I am eager to have answered from someone, but I am afraid to ask for some reason or another. Most often they seem silly, or they are to be addressed to someone that I am unsure of my standing with. (does that make sense?). I guess the first step is getting more comfortable with myself and just asking the questions without regard to how it will make me seem/sound. Lay down the pride and self-deprication.

Today was another tumultuous day. I tried to go to church at His River in Holly. I got off the wrong Holly Rd. exit, and then proceeded to follow the road, thinking I would eventually find where I needed to be. By the time I gave up, turned around and continued on the right way, I made it to church a half hour late. Arg. This prompted another semi-break, where I realized that I do need people. I need to first rely on God, but I do need community, too. We were not created to live this life alone. Again, I don't know if it's hormones or something that's been repressed and coming out all of a sudden, but I've been feeling very alone recently, even if I'm with people. I think it's because I've been in deep authentic community with people that share my values and worldview, and that is not what I have now. I know that I can begin to create it and seek it out, but I still miss it.

Goals for this week:
No guilt for study/planning breaks
seek community (actually make it to His River next week, email about Bible studies?)
create authentic community by asking real and intentional questions
time to breathe, to be alone with God, and to PRAY

Saturday, September 1, 2007


I'm in the midst of this huge transition in my life and it's hard to get a grasp on pretty much anything right now. Here are some of the ways I'm transitioning:

From Student to Teacher:
I've spent the past 17 years learning how to be a good student. I've learned what needs to be done and what doesn't, how to get along with pretty much any teacher, and how to manage my time/balance a whole courseload and a life. Now, I'm in graduate classes where I'm still a student trying to learn and get a good grade. At the same time, though, I'm a "Teacher Intern" which means I'm being apprenticed in how to teach. I'm spending time observing, teaching, learning. I don't really know what my role is.

From Independent to Dependent:
Not dependent in a negative context, by any means. I'm moving from being in college and living with college students (or for the past year, by myself), to living with my grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousin. Life is considerably different in this house, and many times I'm just trying to be considerate and I step on someone's toes, or I don't do my own work. I'm learning a balance between family time and "me" time, and learning to really rely on God. I need to be dependent on him. In a very real sense. I think a lot of times, and especially as I have gone through college, I have learned to rely a lot on people as opposed to God. Even in my independence last year, I still maintained my friendship support skeleton. This year, that social construct is not as freely accessible, because I'm not in town. My reliance needs to be on God.

From College Ministry to Lifelong Ministry:
In the past 4 years I have gotten very comfortable with campus ministry. I've been a regular attendee at a church in the area, gone to and led weekly Bible studies, attended weekly meetings, met new people wherever I went, and conducted surveys in the dorms. If I could be comfortable doing anything right now, I think that would be it. But that's not where God has me right now. He has me in Flint Community School District, teaching 29 second graders how to read, write, and compute. He has me in a place of influence over their love of learning, and their future. It's a heavy responsibility. I'll be surrounded by students or teachers all day, unsure of whether or not God's name is acceptable inside the school walls. I'm learning how to be bold, and how to just live life with people that are not my age and are not just like me. I want to understand the kids. I want to listen to them, learn from them, encourage them. I'm learning.

I think that's all for now. I'm also looking for a church and will be learning what it means to be a member of a church instead of just a regular attendee. It's going to be a challenging year. :-)