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Aspirations

April21

I never aspired to be teacher of the year.  If I had never married and raised kids, I might have had higher occupational goals. I certainly would have earned my master’s degree earlier in life, and I suspect that I would also have had a doctorate by the time I was 35.  But marriage and raising a family bring other priorities to the front, and I willingly left my career in education for a career in the home.

I must confess that for two years when my children were in elementary school I tried teaching part time while being a full-time wife, mother of two, and homemaker.  I soon learned I was not up to the task.  In those days women were encouraged to do it all—supermoms were in style.  I had to acknowledge I was far from super.  This was not an easy admission for someone who always worked for straight A’s.

I loved being a wife and mom.  I willingly chose to give up teaching.  However, society did not make my choice easy.  Books, magazines, TV, and even some of my friends were telling me that housework was a waste of my time, intellect, and years of training.  Of course, in my head, I knew this was not true.  What is more worthwhile than being a biblical helpmeet to my husband and a nurturing mother to my children?  When I began to doubt my choice—which usually seemed to occur when I was confronted with a bathroom in serious need of cleaning—I learned to remind myself of the ultimate purpose of my life:  to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  Surprisingly—or perhaps not so surprisingly—I was able to make the connection that providing a clean and comfortable home for my husband and children pleased and glorified God, and I began to enjoy housework again.

Today my children are grown and caring for homes of their own.  The amount of my housework is greatly reduced, and my retired husband shares it with me.  I am back to teaching, but only part-time.  I am still, after all, a wife, and I know I don’t have the energy to be both a wife and full-time teacher.  Teaching part-time satisfies my love of young people and my love of learning.  Since I teach at a Christian school, I can clearly see the connection between glorifying God and my daily activities there.

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You Are Not a Grade

August1

A new school year begins, and with it, many students wisely set new goals.  One measurement of a goal achieved is often the report card grade.  What is a grade?  It may be defined as a mark indicating the level of quality or proficiency of a student’s work.  In one sense, grades are objective.  After all, it’s math!  Add up the numbers and divide them to get the percentage, right? But grades take on a subjective, emotional tone when we interpret them incorrectly.  It might be helpful to consider what a grade is not:

  • ·         It’s not a gift.
  • ·         It’s not a reward or punishment.
  • ·         It’s not necessarily an indication of how much or what was learned.
  • ·         It’s also not necessarily an indication of how hard one worked.
  • ·         It’s not a mark of a student’s innate value. 

            A grade is earned by meeting the criteria set forth by the teacher as indicated in the curriculum. Students also are taught and learn many things during class that are not part of the report card assessment.  Teachers present and model concepts such as a commitment to truth, love, self-discipline, and justice. These items do not show up in homework or on tests, but they are probably more important than the academic content of the class. Some grading systems have attempted to include a value for effort, but effort is difficult for a teacher to assess.  Some students excel at memorization and learn with very little effort.  For others, studying is not as easy.  Because a grade does not measure these things, it is important that parents, teachers, and students themselves do not mistakenly regard the grade as a measure of their innate value or character.

            As the 2012 school year begins, I hope students are setting realistic goals, goals that include getting good grades, the best grades they are capable of.  To do this, they should be prepared to attend class, pay attention and take good notes, read the assigned textbook pages, do the homework, and study the material.  If they do all this, they can be justly proud of the grade they receive, whether it is a C, a B, or an A.

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I am a Christian, a mother and grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, a widow, a friend. . .  My life is first of all defined by relationships–to God, to my family, to my students, to my friends. Of course, I am many other things: a reader, an e-mail writer, a piano player, and a somewhat reluctant traveler, for example.  And now I am a blogger.  I’m not sure why, except it seems to be a logical next step for someone addicted to e-mail.

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