Sunday, August 31, 2008

Random Observations from a Virginian College Town...

On a completely lighter note from the last post, here are some things I observed yesterday while I was driving around Charlottesville, VA before the USC @ UVA football game yesterday:

  • If you are female, you are most likely going to be wearing some sort of sundress and flats/flip flops. I hope that some of them were not going to the game, and just socializing...sundresses seem inappropriate attire for a football game, no matter the heat.
  • If you are male, it is perfectly appropriate to wear a long sleeve button up dress shirt with shorts and flip flops. Bonus points for wearing a tie and a backwards baseball cap. (Seriously, who does that?)
  • I drove around for awhile and still couldn't tell precisely where the football stadium was...stupid hills (I really like them, but you can't see past them)
  • There are more USC fans in Virginia than I thought there would be. Are they one of those bandwagon teams like the Yankees where everyone likes them because they win all the time?
  • A "hoo" is some form of Cavalier? I'm still trying to figure out what the actual UVA mascot is.
  • There are Smoothie King stores in South Korea...who knew? I had never heard of it before, but the South Korean transfer student I met had been there dozens of times in his country.
That's all. :-)

Thoughts on being Revolutionary...

When I moved to Virginia, I finally started reading, "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I've wanted to read this book for awhile, but never actually sat down and read it. Moving allowed me to have some time by myself, some time without cable, and even some time without internet that I have decided to use reading this book. I am not yet finished, but will most likely read the rest of it before bed tonight.

All that being said, I have some thoughts connected with the book, and somewhat connected to the movie, "Swing Kids" that I watched this evening, too.

First of all, Shane Claiborne is a very powerful writer. He uses anecdotes from his own life/experience mixed quotations from noted peacemakers, revolutionaries, and protesters. Much of this book has tugged at the strings of my heart, making me want to live life differently, to go out and make peace instead of sitting at home safe and comfortable. It's made me want to be less tied to material things (of which the Bible says we should not tie ourselves anyway), and live more fully out of real physical love for people. I don't mean romantic love, or "I love you, too," kind of love. I mean love that causes you to give up what you had planned or your comfort for the sake of another person. The kind of love that will invite a homeless person into your house on a cold night, give someone your coat, share a meal with someone your complete opposite. That kind of love.

I have sections underlined, and notes along the margins of this book, as with many of my books, but so far I have yet to apply most of what I am underlining/thinking about. I want to apply it, I just don't know where or how yet.

Connecting the book to "Swing Kids," as I was watching, some of the statements from the main character who is a member of Hitler's Youth, but hates the Nazis, remind me of what Shane has to say about us. In both texts (yes, a movie is a text...), there is a call for non-conformism. There is a call to rise out of complacency and stand for something that you believe in, no matter the cost to your comfort or security. There is a call to look at people differently than most do, and a call for change.

While our country is not like Nazi Germany, nor will it likely become like Nazi Germany, there are still aspects of our government and social systems that oppress and impoverish. There are people working harder than I ever will for probably less than 1/3 of my salary (not saying that teachers are the most well paid professionals, either). There are vast divisions between the rich and the poor, and those chasms are growing wider by the day. People are very big into supporting "issues" and "causes" these days, but do people support people? Instead of thinking about what I am not, or what I don't agree with or believe in, I want to think about what I am, what I do believe. I want to think about supporting love, and supporting people who are both like me and unlike me. I want to be a revolutionary for grace and for love in this world. I'm still figuring out how....

I'll leave this post with a quote, from "Momma T" according to Shane, more well known as Mother Teresa:

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.

Today...(and tomorrow, and forever) Small things with great love....Thanks for the ideas, Shane.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School

It's official. I'm a teacher.

I say that now, after my first day as a teacher with no "cooperating teacher" to report to, no "field instructor" to observe me, and no "professor" to give me assignments to make sure I'm planning lessons. No, now I have a "principal" to come in an check on me, making sure everything's going okay. I have a "colleague" (well, more than one, but one other high school math teacher) to run to when I need an idea or have a question about how else something can be done. I have a "mentor" to help show me the ropes of the school and ease my transition. I am a teacher.

Now that the first day is over, I can think about how I can do things differently tomorrow to make it better. Before today, I questioned how I could ever get to know individual students and their work patterns quickly, how to distinguish between them and make sure I'm meeting each of their needs. I'm still working on it, but it's amazing how much you can learn about a kid (or 6 of them at a time) in an hour and a half.

One of the students had a real, "aha" moment today. I didn't think she would ever understand how to substitute a number for a variable without prompting, but by the end of class, she did it! She was so proud of herself, too. :-)