Posts Tagged ‘Bible class’

Why I love third graders

I recently informed my new third grade Bible class students that I have taught the third grade at our church since Swimmer Girl was their age. Which means this is my tenth year teaching third grade. Which also means I was teaching this class since before these students were born.  Whoa.

I’d like to think that fact impressed them, but I suspect some of them were doing some sketchy mental math and concluding that means I’m REALLY old.

My age aside, I am firmly convinced that third grade is really and truly great.

Third grade is the Best. Grade. Ever.

Not convinced? Consider these criteria:

  • They are old enough to grasp some fairly complex ideas and facts and young enough to have fun doing it.
  • They are mature enough to get through class without a bathroom break.  If they do need a break, they can go unaccompanied. ( That is HUGE for a teacher – can I get an Amen?)
  • They are big enough to play challenging games, but they are still shorter than me.
  • They are willing learners, and when all else fails, they can be bribed with Jolly Ranchers and Oriental Trading trinkets.
  • They bring their teacher sweet gifts at Christmas-time. They ooh and ahh when I give them their own Christmas mug with homemade marshmallows.  We all believe in Santa and we all pray for snow and snow days.

We are like peas and carrots, my third graders and I.

During our time together, they let me into their world by telling me about their sports or academic accomplishments.  I tell them about my dog and my family. We talk smack about our favorite college and pro teams. (Football is a fabulous time of year.)  Each class writes a story on my heart that remains long after they move on. Best of all, “my”girls greet me with hugs for years after they are in my class.  The boys grin and wave “hey” when we cross paths, even when they enter middle and high school. My ego would like to think  it’s because I’m an awesome teacher, but I know it’s because they are awesome kids.

Even though third grade was arguably a challenging year for me growing up, it’s the age I seem to be at ease with now. (Which could be the Santa factor…)  But whatever it is, I adore watching them begin that awkward transition between young child and tweener – they are my pride and joy, and every year I say I’ve got the best class ever, because they are.

Of course, this is Week 3 of the fall quarter.  By spring, I might be marking off  the days until promotion Sunday rolls around.


Here’s hoping that for every class, there is a teacher who thinks their students are the bees’ knees and and that he or she has the absolute best grade ever.

Happy teaching,

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You know you’re too busy when you find yourself gritting your teeth and telling yourself, “if I can just make it through [fill in the blank:  today, or this week, or this month or this year], things will ease up” and you realize you’ve been telling yourself that too often lately.  Getting through one crunch time or crisis merely frees you up just in time for the next one.

I lost the last two weeks to busy-ness.  It is the busy season for my “extra-curricular” activities:  every year I juggle the demands of co-coordinating our annual school supply giveaway while continuing to oversee our summer-long VBS at church.  I know going into summer that this particular crunch time will hit.  But this year, I piled on a few more projects to my already-overflowing plate, and I found myself swamped.  I went into overdrive, fueled by adrenaline and reacting instinctively to everything that crossed my path:  knock out this task, then that one and the umpteen ones after those.  Whirl around just in time to keep another to-do from sneaking up behind me.  In the last few weeks, I’ve had one precious night when I sat in a rocker on my porch for a few minutes and watched the horses across the road.  Every other day has been go-go-go from before dawn until I’ve burned a little midnight oil before collapsing into sleep for a few hours.

These last few weeks have reminded me of what life was like when I worked 70-80 hour weeks at a downtown office, and traveled every few weeks.  Even then, my pace was nothing compared to some of the road warriors I worked with, but it was grueling nonetheless.  I’ve been reminded of the toll it takes on your mind, body and spirit to work those kind of hours, day in and day out.

I admire those who can do it without complaint, week in and out, year after year.  But I have no desire to return to that grindstone, at least not to that degree.  I have learned that I may be highly productive under those conditions, but it exacts a toll on my psyche that takes longer to re-charge with every passing year.  Maybe I’ve just gotten soft and lazy, but I find I need downtime to think, pray, and just be, in order to be my best.  And I suspect all those who keep up that sort of pace need the downtime, too – they just don’t have time to stop and realize what they are missing while they scurry around trying to make sure they don’t miss anything.

This week’s schedule is much like the last two:  tonight I have the pleasure of hosting our monthly Bunco group and raising a little money for our school supply drive.  Another night this week will be spent researching some software we need.  Later this week, I will spend an evening counting school supplies, and another evening is reserved for an education meeting.  The other nights will be devoted to editing lesson plans and communicating with other volunteers.

And the week after this one looks like more of the same. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that if I can just make it through this week and next, things will ease up; the calendar shows another month-size block that will be chock-full, especially once canning and preserving kick in.  But even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, I’m also going to carve out some time for my brain to stop whirling at breakneck speed, and for my body to be still.

Because sometimes doing nothing is really something.

Happy Monday,

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Clean Desk Misson: Week 6

So here’s my desk, still clean.  I even updated the blotter to September on the last day of August.  My ever-ready sunglasses and coffee mug are always waiting to jet out with me in the mornings.

….and here’s what else showed up on my desk this week: 

 Yep, three new pairs of sunglasses.  They are props for our intrepid FBI (Faithful Bible Investigator) agents, so they can take MIB-esque mugshots for their photo ID badges.  (Which turned out GREAT – it’s amazing how sophisticated these 3rd, 4th and 5th graders can look when they put on the shades and strike a serious pose.)  The sunglasses will remain on standby for a few weeks while we get any straggler photos taken.  And then I’ll have to find a place to store them.

The desk got a heavy workout this past week.  Once my replacement toner arrived, it became a frenzy of printing:  Kindergarten coloring pages, FBI background check sheets and other paperwork to augment the purchased curriculum, and a few new recipes to try.  But so far, the combination of ruthlessly sorting the mail each day and putting everything away at the end of the day have yielded good results.  Time to move on…I think I can now rely on my newly formed habit to keep the desk maintained.

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Everything old is new again?

Recently, my mother-in-law regaled us with stories about a rolling store, a peddler in a converted bus that traveled through rural areas, bringing staples and what-nots to those living in remote areas.  With a twinkle in her eye she sheepishly bragged that she was a little miserly  with the gum she was able to buy from that rolling store, only giving half a piece to classmates who asked her to share.  Times were tough and money was scarce; I’m sure she didn’t get “gum money” very often, so it was a precious commodity on the playground.

Back when personal transportation was extremely limited, mail order was another way to obtain things you needed or wanted but couldn’t get locally.  My grandparents’ generation treasured the Sears-Roebuck catalogs (and recycled them when rolled toilet paper was a luxury few could indulge in.)

1966: Bet I had this dogeared

As a child, I remember anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sears Wishbook catalog each fall, poring over it to make a list for Santa.  It mattered little if I got any of the specific items I picked out…it was indeed a book for inspiring wishes and dreams.

With our first home, I fearlessly forayed into gardening.  But I quickly realized the local stores’ selection of plants and seeds was pretty limited.  So I visited the Tulsa Garden Center Library and jotted down addresses to send away for catalogs.  Ever since, I have been rewarded with a steady stream of gardening catalogs in my mailbox. Like the old wish books, they’re filled with photos and tantalizing descriptions that inspire hopes and dreams, especially in the dead of winter.

When we prepared to move into this home, one of the first to-do’s involved removing old carpet and replacing it with hard flooring.  I had researched hard wood vs. laminate, and given our budget and age of kids, I opted for laminate flooring.

The only sources of laminate available were flooring showrooms and big box stores with a limited selection of pricey laminate.  And…I had the Internet.  My husband’s family thought I was crazy, but I happily hopped online and ordered hundreds of square feet of discount flooring, going on nothing more than a description and a website picture.  I’m happy to report that ten years later, the floors have withstood traffic from skidding kids, cats, dogs and daily living, and look great.   If you think that my purchase was crazy, let me introduce you to my better half, who has bought BMWs and a hot tub on eBay!

Ten years later, I still love ordering stuff, and it keeps getting easier.  Boxes with books, plants, dishes, purses, pots and pans show up on my doorstep.  The mail carrier might wonder what I do with all that stuff from Oriental Trading.   (I teach 3rd grade Bible class – do you really need more explanation than that?)  This method of buying is really nothing new; the concept is at least as old as those old mail order catalogs and peddling buses.  It’s just a little easier nowadays to search to the ends of the earth for what your heart desires and have it delivered right to your door.

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Clean Desk Mission: Week 5

It looks like I have passed the one-month milestone for a clean desk.  How is it looking?  Well, here it is today.

Yes, the inbox is getting a little full.  Thanks for pointing that out.  One of today’s missions is to tackle it and get it back under control before it gets any messier, then dust the desk.

And so you know the “rest of the story” (with apologies to the late Paul Harvey), here’s the stack of stuff that is currently piled on the floor next to my desk.

I don’t count it as part of the desk, because it is not allowed ON the desk.  But it needs to be dealt with ASAP.  What is it?  Well, it’s the leftover kindergarten curriculum printouts from a project I’m wrapping up this week; new curriculum for our 3rd-5th graders (classes start next Wednesday – woohoo!); a binder full of youth ministry forms that I need to sort and organize and give to our youth minister next Tuesday; a box of plastic sheet protectors for a recipe project I’ve got goin’ on; and unsorted mail from yesterday.  (Oooh, is that a new Better Homes & Gardens issue peeking out? I guess that will be my reward for culling through the pile today.)

My little green orphan doodad has not been tossed out, as threatened.  It’s been joined by a compression fitting.  Like the green thingamajig, I have no clue what it goes to or who put it here, (but at least know what  it is.)  Wonder what cute little offspring these two might morph up?  If I leave them alone overnight, I might find out…

I can’t brag about my stupendous photo file organizing efforts; too many other urgent things took priority this week.  But there’s always next week, right?

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His fingerprints are everywhere…

Chalk it up to overdosing on VBS stuff over the past ten days, but I woke up this morning with a line from the “Hip-Hip-Hooray Hippopotamus” song running through my head, like a record with a deep scratch. Over and over and over. I could even see little hands moving and creating handprints all over the walls of my mind.

It’s annoying to have a children’s song scratching across your psyche like nails on a chalkboard, but if it had to happen, at least it was a true line: His fingerprints ARE everywhere.

I watched two storms roll through the midstate today. Both times, sunny skies darkened, the wind blew, the rain lashed against my windows, and then it receded just as quickly as it came, leaving everything clean and sparkly and sunny once again. We are no match for nature’s fury, but we can take comfort that we are nestled in the shelter of our creator’s arms.

It made me think of a recent lesson on the providence of God. Although I am a bit of word geek, that lesson struck me because I had never really thought about the root and obvious meaning of the word providence: to provide. He provides us with a habitable planet to sojourn on, air to breath, light to grow plants which feed us and the animals, which in turn feed us. Our bodies and brains are beyond comprehension in their complexity and perfectly elegant functionality to do everything we require. He sends rain on the just and the unjust, and he makes the sun to shine on us all, too.

The children’s education program this summer is going to be an amazing (and wild) adventure. Thirteen weeks, six classroom rotations, and four lessons for grades K-5. All pointing out how we can know God’s plans and promises for us, which He made at the beginning and He will keep to the very end.

Indeed, His fingerprints are everywhere, just to show how much He cares. That’s a lot to hip-hip-hooray about, isn’t it?

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Me and my notebooks

I have developed a fondness (fetish is much too strong a term) for 3-ring binders. Pretty ones, with nifty, colorful graphics. It started out innocently enough; last spring I found myself diving headfirst into our children’s education program at Highland Heights, and I needed a way to organize my meeting notes, ideas and training materials.

So I bought a binder. And totally out of character for me, I passed over the sensible, plain white binders when my eyes landed on a pretty notebook. It had circles, and it spoke to me. I bought it. (Concerned friends pointed out it matched the pattern on a Thirty-One skirt purse I was carrying at the time…I assured them it was total coincidence. I’m not that kind of girl. “Coordinated” is not a word that comes to mind when you think of me.)

Then we launched our first annual school supply drive at Highland. It was a 6-week whirlwind of activity. To keep track of all the emails, correspondence, sign-up sheets, etc., I needed…another notebook. This one had squares. (No matching purse this time.)

Now we’re getting ready to turn VBS on its head (literally and figuratively: it’s now SBV, which stands for Summer Bible Vacation, and it will last all summer long. And yes, it puts me in mind of National Lampoon’s Vacation (but minus the less family-friendly parts.) And this means…I need another notebook. So this one is striped.

See? Aren’t they adorable? But I’m not sure what this holds for my future. I mean, let’s say I just happen to find another really awesome binder. Will I need to take on another project so I can justify buying it? And on the flip side, what happens if I suddenly can’t find any other cute and distinctive patterned notebooks? Would that mean I’ll have to decline any other projects? Surely not…

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