Elizabeth George does it again. She stopped me in my tracks with the following observation: Finding the right person to marry is easier than being the right person. This week I had more than one opportunity to realize how Jesus is using my home life to make me a better teacher. The realization came out of my mouth this way while encouraging a student who was tired of waffling back and forth between sticking with and dropping the Preparatory Composition course she signed up for not knowing it was half in the classroom and half online: Sometimes, the only way out is through.
Just as none of us leaves this planet alive, none of us escapes the lessons adversity has to teach us. We may think we’re choosing a path wide of fill-in-the-blank, but in reality that thing we’re trying to avoid will simply morph and meet us around another corner wearing different loafers. Whether we learn the lessons or keep repeating them is another matter entirely. We can cling stubbornly to our resistance to accepting, admitting or releasing a certain perspective, paradigm or person or we can embrace it, plow it under, and use that same energy to cultivate something worth nurturing, nourishing and passing on. If only it were as funny as it is instructive walking in one’s own moccasins, eating one’s own words, taking one’s own medicine.
Lucille always said, balance or be balanced. Nubia’s translation of the same sentiment was “humble yourself or be humbled”. Doing both is an awkward cha-cha but it makes me oh so happy to know that Jesus is my dance partner and the Holy Spirit is conducting the orchestra.
Took the next step to complete the course proposal process today by waiting for the dean to return from a lunch meeting to sign the revised proposal form. The responses from colleagues at sister institutions gave me an opportunity to call, more than a few times, a colleague who has always been dear to my heart. She obliged with advice, encouragement and her wry blend of humor and hyperbole that kept me chuckling even after we’d hung up the phone. We walked together to the Dean’s Office and hung out there getting to know the dean and each other through talking-story. She clued me in to the fact that I had yet another two signatures to secure and that they would not be available until Monday. In the meantime, the Dean generously offered, and I accepted, to take the form to a meeting on another campus tomorrow. There, she will attempt to secure one of the signatures needed and see that the original get back to me for anything remaining.
Upon leaving her office I forewent the dash to the consignment store where a tree we purchase last month is still waiting for us to claim it. It’s been quite funny attempting to secure a truck and today I finally asked the shopkeeper how much they would charge to deliver it. The fact that the tree cost barely $10 more than delivery, we decided to find another way of getting the tree home, having declined the offer of yesterday’s handyman to pick it up – for a fee. We’ll try to wedge it into our truck tomorrow. It was great that the ginormous prints we purchased yesterday fit in the back with the passenger seat folded forward. Why shouldn’t a six-foot tree fit.
After deciding in favor of heading home after dropping off a recently discovered, year+-old Make-A-Wish Foundation donation, I headed to the supermarket to grab a little more than a few things for tonight’s DoTerra Essential Oils class. It was a great success though several people who confirmed did not join us. One friend joined me as an Independent Product Consultant before she left and ordered a great enrollment kit to safeguard her family’s wellness for a long time to come. I’m just glad I took the first step and shared something that’s made such a great difference in my life.
Class begins with a few students sharing their frustration about not knowing what to do and when in ENG 098. It is Week Four and they are still limping along, shrink-wrapped in learned helplessness. Only a few are absent or arrive late. The majority are there early. They enter the room with me five minutes ahead of the hour and begin to avow or disavow whatever understanding they have forged to date. I ask for victory and praise reports. One student stands and says how until last night she had struggled with one or another aspect of getting the assignments done. Her talk creates an opportunity for me to illustrate from my own life what a glass half-full perspective looks like.
From there we take questions and allow several students to attempt to login to access the electronic text. This creates a palpable sense of relief so I make efforts to move us along to freewriting and discussion. The topic is Time. What’s it to you, how do you use it. What does it mean? Rich discussion follows our five minutes of writing and the student who volunteered earlier to give her praise report appreciates the Discussant for her choice of topic. By the end of the period there is a good buzz among the groups and half the class seems to linger behind huddled in their various teams.
When I get to my office, I call the absentees and create teams, intending to create Discussion boards for each after I print and get signed the revised Migrant Literature Course Proposal forms for Curriculum Committee. On the way to pick up and deliver the printed pages and get a bite to eat, a student from the morning’s class who told us she’d be meeting with Retention Services and Student Success later in the day asked if I’d have time to meet with her. I asked her if she could wait 15 minutes and we agreed to meet up at my office.
Though I did most of the talking, she was able to share more of her journey, struggles and current situation and agree to “trust God in the process” as she stays with the class. Her remarks create opportunities for me to touch upon resistance, perseverance and the ultimate tipping point each student comes to if they approach the freewriting exercises with gusto.
Bible Study later this evening confirms it. We must trust God for His promises of the impossible. Pastor had us read from Exodus 6:2, Genesis 2, 18:12, Romans 2, Philippians and Colossians 2:9. I am committing to memory the verse from II Timothy 2:19 as I celebrate God’s transformation-in-progress in our lives. I was doubly grateful that Pastor seemed to give me time to cry on his shoulder after Altar Call even though he remained in the pulpit and I was seated in the fifth to last row from the back. I am encouraged by his reminder:
I am not chasing a blessing. A blessing’s chasing me. I belong to God. He wants to and will provide for, protect and prosper me.
Nothing much to report beyond the injunction to be perfect treated in Oswald Chambers’ devotional for today.
God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly.
Try that one on for size. As I understand it, Matthew 5:48 wasn’t written to exclude or deny one’s identity the way say the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was written. It was penned as a reminder to all of us for whom Jesus died to invite Him consistently to stretch out in us as we stretch beyond our limits to embrace more of Him.
Politics being what they are, I am glad I was led to create the new Migrant Literature course when I did. If, as the latest report to the Regents indicates, remedial education gets shifted back to the high schools, I will have another course to fall back on. I requested to teach it as an in-class hybrid for the first eight weeks if the Spring 2012 semester and as an online course for the second half. We’ll see if the short course option is once again on the table.
…A species of madness comes with the territory of teaching.
It is a thing of beauty when students start correcting themselves, their own work, paying attention to the details. If you create a supportive enough vacuum of leadership this seems to be a natural consequence. This weekend I received several emails from students acknowledging their oversight or former confusion and proposing solutions or announcing corrections had been made. I replied appreciatively and ended my session by releasing the folder of Team Resources. I don’t know why it took me so many failed attempts to assign the teams, update the Sample Assignments and post an announcement pointing the teams toward their dedicated discussion boards. This time I included a disclaimer about the deliberately open-ended nature of the Collaborative Midterm with a hope that something pleasantly surprising would emerge from “this group of flexible intelligences”. Here’s to doing the same thing and expecting different results 20 years and counting!
After a significant wrestling match getting words on the screen I read today’s devotional. Here is a feminized excerpt:
A [wo]man’s disposition on the inside, i.e., what [she] possesses in [her] personality, determines what [she] is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of the nature. Every [wo]man has the setting of [her] own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.
Temptation is a suggested short cut to the realization of the highest at which I aim – not towards what I understand as evil, but towards what I understand as good. Oswald Chambers
What do you make of that? What occurs to me is that temptation is a given and, like sin, it is part of the reason the Holy Spirit abides with us even now. That being the case, once you have accepted your assignment, look not back. Enter the wilderness knowing that once you emerge on the other side you too will be fed by angels.