Walking in Freedom

Miscellaneous musings along the way

Forgive and Forget? October 9, 2012

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 9:40 pm
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It all started when one of my high school students (I’ll call him Isaac) chose not to pay attention to the lesson because he was catching up on work that should have already been completed.  As I was moving around the room helping students with the assignment, he quickly became frustrated because I wouldn’t come over to him to reteach the entire lesson to him.  Isaac’s frustration boiled over as he angrily gathered his belongings and stormed out of my room.  I still had students in the room to teach, and I wasn’t about to chase after a student who clearly wasn’t in the mood to see things from another point of view.


The next day, I put a half sheet “Re-entry” form on a clipboard and handed it to him before he came in the room.  It included questions like “what happened?” and “what could you have done differently?” and “how can you prevent this from happening again?”  After being in the hallway for a bit, Isaac knocked on the door.  It didn’t take long for me to notice that he still had the “teacher wasn’t doing her job” mentality.  I told him I didn’t think he was ready to re-enter the room to which he replied something along the lines of “can’t we just forgive and forget?”

I have only God to thank for bringing to my mind the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).  What does this have to do with a stubborn teenager?  For those of you who don’t know the story, a woman is caught in adultery and is brought before Jesus by a group of religious men.  According to the law, the penalty for this sin was to stone her.  Jesus responds by saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”(v.7)  Realizing their guilt, all of the men gradually leave.  Jesus, now alone with the woman, asks her if anyone condemns her.  When she says there is no one, Jesus declares “Then neither do I condemn you.  Go now and leave your life of sin.” (v.11)


Jesus extended grace.  He chose forgiveness.  BUT, he did not ignore her actions that led to the accusation in the first place.  He declared forgiveness and also made a call to action.  He sent her off calling her to leave her life of sin.  God does not forgive us so that we can keep messing up (Paul says a lot about that in Romans!).  We see through the story of this woman that forgiveness propels repentance (or turning away from sin).


I shared this story with Isaac, stressing the importance of changed behavior.  I emphasized that I didn’t think less of him as a person, but I expected him to change his behavior.


Yes, God does remove our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).  Even still, from the story of the woman, we see that he desires that we walk away from our sin.


Radical, crazy love September 8, 2012

So, I know I’m already 4 weeks into the school year and the weather is finally getting a bit cooler… but one thing I love about summer is that I have a lot more time to read!   One book I read over the summer was Radical, by David Platt.  If you’re looking for a book that will shake up your idea of what it means to be a Christian in America, I would highly recommend this book.  Through stories and Scripture, Platt asserts that the American Dream isn’t really what God has in mind when it comes to living out our faith.


Another book I just finished is Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  Similar to Radical, Chan challenges believers to live out the gospel in tangible ways as a result of their passionate love relationship with God.  Through stories of “average” people who have boldly lived out their faith, Chan reassures the reader that a life of radical commitment is possible for anyone who is truly in love with God.


To continue on a similar theme, I picked up a Timothy Keller book at the library today titled Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just.  I’ve only read the intro and part of the first chapter, but I’m excited to dive into my first book by Keller!  I think it’ll be neat to make connections with this book and the others I’ve been reading… and also see how it relates to my job teaching kids with rough lives outside of school- some who have spent time in jail.


Notable Differences August 21, 2012

It’s amazing how different my new job is.  Sure I’m still teaching high school math and many of my new students are rough around the edges, as were my former students.  Many of them have chaotic home lives that affect their performance at school.  That’s about where the similarities end.  Here are some initial notable differences:

  • With class size ranging from 4-9 students “group work” becomes a whole class activity!  It makes it a lot easier to make sure the students are staying on track!
  • Teaching 4 different courses (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2) with about 35 total students is easier than teaching just 2 courses with 135 total students… at least so far!
  • Staff meetings: At my old school, we had one per month with ~150 staff in attendance.  And, I’ll just say that most teachers did not look forward to them.  Now, we have daily meetings in the morning with 6-10 people in attendance.  Instead of staring blankly off into space and trying to pick out the bits and pieces that apply to you, every word spoken affects you in some way because you know every student and know something about each of the staff members.  We also pray for our students and each other every morning.
  • Not only am I allowed to share the most important aspect of my life with my students, I’m encouraged (and expected) to share my faith with them.  My job is not just to teach math, but to be an advocate and mentor for them.
  • I don’t have to worry about taking home papers to grade because I know I’ll be all caught up after working a little before school and during my prep period.
  • I’m finding that you can get about the same amount of work done in one 80 minute block than you can in two 50 minute class period- it makes prep work easier too! 🙂  And what makes the schedule even better is we get to see all our students on Friday!

Well, that’s a good start… you can be sure that there will be more to come! 🙂



Just another week in room 715 January 20, 2012

Three day weekends are nice… the fact that they are followed by 4 day weeks is pretty great too! 🙂

After a refreshing weekend which included a visit to a new coffee shop in town, I managed to get a pretty nasty cold.  But, not enough to keep me home- just enough to make me sneeze and cough on my students a lot and push my bedtime up a couple hours because I was so tired!!

Thought I’d just share some random happenings from the week:

  • Two senior (as in 17 or 18 year old) guys happily helped me grade some quizzes in exchange for some glittery Disney princess stickers.  One was planning to give them to his girlfriend…


  • In one of my classes, several students who I had 1st semester only (they were making up a credit) have stopped by to visit this week since it’s the first week of the 2nd semester.  Guess they’re just going through withdrawal!  haha!


  • In that same class, some of the girls wanted to know how I folded my scarf a particular way.  I showed them a couple weeks ago but someone wanted to see again, so I jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate.  Since it’s a Geometry class, I explained how “you find the midpoint and fold it in half so you have two congruent segments.  Then… etc. etc.”  After my animated explanation, I quickly racked my brain- ‘how can I transition to diagonals of a parallelogram??’  Then I had it… “So, just like the midpoint divides the scarf into 2 congruent segments, the diagonals of a parallelogram bisect each other- forming two congruent segments.”  Good times…

  • I’ll finish with one more: I have a student, I’ll call him Eric, in one of my classes and he somehow got this idea that he wants to have me as his math teacher again next year.  Well, there’s been a lot of talk with scheduling for next year already and he was asking me what math class he could take so that he could have me again.  He wanted to know if he’d be able to take the senior math class I currently teach.  Time will tell what I end of teaching (there will be lots of changes in the department next year), but it does make you feel like you’re doing something right when a student is trying to have you 2 years in a row.

More stories for another day… 🙂


The Answer September 10, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Relationships — songofjoy88 @ 10:15 pm
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Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher- and a math teacher, at that!  I think that I have to know the answer and that there is only one.  If I can only think through the situation logically, I can make sense of it.  Just give me all the information about the problem and I’ll find a way to solve it.  I’ll plug it into a formula or into my calculator and come up with the answer.  I just need to figure out what I need to do, and then I’ll do it.  It’s that simple-

…or is it?  My students would certainly agree with me that sometimes numbers can be messy… but I’m coming to realize more fully that they are not nearly as messy and complicated as our lives.  When our foundations crumble, we want answers.  We need answers!  Now that I’m back at school, I’m seeing this truth played out in students’ lives.  The rubble of their broken lives clutters the floor of my classroom and I’m left standing there with the disheartening realization that I am not an architect.  I cannot draft the design to rebuild their lives.  And even if I could, I wouldn’t have the skills or tools to build it!  I have nothing to offer them…

…with one exception- I can offer them Jesus.  And He is everything they need.  All I can offer is the truth of what He has done in my life and the promise that He desires all people to come to Him in repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  He cares about them more than I ever could and He showed them his great love by giving his life!

So, I will carry you to Jesus, because He is the answer!

“Carry You to Jesus” by Steven Curits Chapman


Like riding a bike September 4, 2011

Filed under: School — songofjoy88 @ 4:21 pm
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You know how people say- “it’s like riding a bike,” implying that you never forget how to do whatever activity they’re referring to.  Well, I can’t think of a better analogy for teaching.  Most of you know that my first semester of my first year was very rough (those were my training wheel days with a few nasty falls thrown in there).  Then, second semester things started to get a bit better (those were the parent, or in thise case fellow teacher(s), running next to your bike helping you ride by yourself days).  Now I can ride by myself, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have a “big girl” bike yet… probably more like one of those with streamers flowing off the handlebars in the wind.  And even though I can ride a bike pretty well now, there’s plenty more biking adventures I can try: mountain biking, racing, riding with no hands, etc.


These first 4 days of school really couldn’t have gone better!  Praise God! 🙂  Sure they weren’t perfect, but I’m so thankful for God’s guidance and that he chooses to work through me no matter what.  Here are a few highlights and lowlights (in more ways than one!) from the first week:


* On Monday (teacher meetings and work day), I had no power in my room.  No lights, many non-functional electric outlets and no AC (or even blowing air!).  But, I didn’t even have a computer in my room so did it really matter if the outlets worked??


* Tuesday morning (first day with students), I was plesantly surprised to walk into a fully lit room with a working AC (my students wouldn’t let me forget it- pretty much non-stop complaining about how cold it was!  haha!)… still no computer, but I’ll take what I can get! 


* At the end of the first day, one of the teachers down the hall asked in an astonished tone- “Did you kick a kid out on the first day?!”  Apparently he had seen Tony out in the hall during 6th period.  I told the teacher that Tony had kind of kicked himself out.  What happened was Tony (who I had last year) thought he could get away with being chatty since he knows me.  While students were working on their “About Me” WS, he continued to talk, so I told him he could move to a different seat or go out in the hallway.  In a melodramatic huff, he said- “I’m going out to the hallway!”  And I just said- “ok.”  So, I guess I kicked a kid out on the first day…


* On Wednesday morning, I was again plesantly surprised.  This time there was computer on my desk… apparently they found one of about 3 working outlets and it was all ready to go!


* On Thursday, students worked on a group work intro activity.  One of the questions was “What is one thing everyone in your group can agree on about math?”  A group of junior guys wrote- “It sucks!” (guess that’s what I get for telling them to be honest!)  When I asked if there was anything else… they apparently decided to add something else.  After the class turned in their papers and left, I glanced at that group’s sheet.  Next to “it sucks!” they had added “but we love the teacher <3”. (suck ups!)


* On Friday, we had an assembly outside.  The Navy band was there and performed for us… but this wasn’t your patriotic brass band that I envisioned.  No, no… they played Lady Gaga and Katy Perry while some men who weren’t performing launched small football stress balls into the bleachers.  Then several parachuters landed on the football field not more than about 40 feet away from me!  It was pretty fun and since I didn’t see some of my classes and don’t want to get off pace, the rest of my classes just got to color a geometric tile pattern involving grid paper and reflections.  They did really well and seemed to enjoy the activity.  One student even asked if they could do something like that every Friday… haha- nice try on his part.


Well, the adventures continue on Tuesday (thanks to the 3-day weekend!) :)… you can be sure that there will be more to come!