The Brilliance of a 5-year-old

Friday night I babysat for two of my favorite kids. 

I’d seen them on Wednesday and realized how much I’d missed their giggliness and affection.  These two kids are hilarious and so much fun to hang out with.  So I asked them if I could come over their house for a little bit…as expected, they were excited:)  The little girl, who’s 5 1/2 years old, said to me, "You know, Ms. Kim…you know how sometimes I cry when Mommy and Daddy leave and you babysit us?  Well, I don’t do that anymore.  Um, I learned that when I cry I am not using control over my emotions, but now I know how to calm down and control my emotions better."  Yes, the 5-year-old…

This little girl spends lot of time with her parents.  She’s read to, and is spoken to, as an intelligent human being.  Her parents ask her questions and never yell at her.  They talk with her to help her sort out what’s going on.  I love it!  She still cried a little when her parents left on Friday night, but I was able to calm her down by simply talking with her and asking her to just talk to me:)

My short friend is a living example of what we’re learning about in our literacy project.  She has been influenced by rich vocabulary since she was in the womb and it has been one of the greatest thing her parents have offered to her!  It’s amazing how much parents can do for their children by talking to them and asking them questions, from the time they’re babies!

There’s a study that I’ve heard about from a few different conferences/workshops that was completed at a zoo.  During the study, parents were observed in their interactions with their kids.  What was found was that parents from poverty were observed speaking very little to their children, and when they did converse with each other, the conversations were very basic and didn’t include higher level thinking skills.  Typically, (perhaps stereotypically in many cases) we assume that these same people, struggling in poverty, also don’t read very often to their kids….and don’t ask higher level thinking questions.  Is it true all the time?  Absolutely not.  But does it seem to be more the norm?  Unfortunately, yes.  And there you have one of the key disadvantages of generational poverty.  (Katie, this isn’t my post on at-risk kids, but this will definitely play a key role in that:)  So, what’s the flip side to this?  The study found that, typically, parents that were not living in poverty spoke more to their kids at the zoo, and asked those higher level thinking questions like, "What’s the pattern on the zebra?", "Do you think the lions like they’re having fun with each other?  Why?"  "How are the monkeys and the polar bears alikeDifferent?"  Patterns, inferencing, comparing…these are all things that parents need to be doing with their kids from the time they can understand you!  The families in poverty tend to struggle to see this…but I would venture to guess that they are mostly unaware, and some might even be unable.  If they weren’t brought up with a rich vocabulary, themselves, how can they (all of a sudden, in their late teens or early twenties) offer that to their own kids?…and thus starts the cycle all over again. 

This is why what I’m learning about right now as a teacher will revolutionize (I hope:) what happens to the kids in my classroom.  The 9-year-old kids that I have, living in generational poverty, who don’t even begin to have the words of my little 5-year-old friend from earlier, will have a chance by being in my classroom.  I’m going to make sure of it.  The amount of time I’ll put into planning is definitely going to get on my nerves, but my hope (and prayer) is that I will see growth in my kids like never before.  It makes me want to ask for all the lowest kids in 4th grade:)  Hmmm…we’ll see.

Here’s my point.  We tend to look at all kids, like my short friend, as if they’re these little geniuses!  We think they’re the smartest kids in the world and that they must have really high IQ’s.  Are all of these things possible?  Sure!  But are they probable?  Um…maybe not.  See, if all parents spent time reading and talking with their kids in the same way as my friends, all kids would sound like geniuses.  Doesn’t that make some sense?  They would all have some foundation in knowing how to express themselves and it would be simply fantastic.  Then, by the time they got to school, teachers could simply build on that foundation…instead of teaching it for the first time.  Oh, it would be beautiful!


Cognitive Desk Space

I realized, just a little bit ago, that I spent about 10 hours in meetings today:)  It was a great day, but my cognitive desk space is so full and overflowing with piles…

Cognitive desk space has to do with memory, and I think it would everyone a little good to learn a bit about this for a minute.  I think every pastor, small group leader, teacher and friend should know a little bit about this, because it helps some things to make sense.  People zone out after awhile, not just because they’re tired, or you’re boring:) (or I’m boring), but also because there’s just too much "new stuff" to process at one time.  The desk space is used up!

You’ve got your short-term memory.
You’ve got your long-term memory.
Then you’ve got your working memory (your cognitive desk space).
-This is important for people to have, in order to develop concepts
-It’s limited!  Think about your office desk.  You can only put so many things on your desk to work efficiently.  (Outrageously stacked piles don’t count…except that’s how I feel right now.)
-It combines incoming information from short-term memory, and stored information from long-term memory (which is why helping someone build background knowledge is huge when speaking to a group of people).
-Problem solving isn’t likely to occur, straight off the desk space, so to speak.  It’s got to be connected to something from long-term memory for deep problem solving to occur.

Okay, for real, I’m becoming a literacy junkie.  I just googled "cognitive desk space" and got this.  Which lead me to looking through a few Power Point Presentations for trainings on the topic of literacy to underachieving students.  My brain hurts so much, thinking about brains!:)

I would like to add, on a side note, that I’m going to be kept accountable to keeping my classroom extremely neat and tidyBrian and Susan were telling us this today and then they saw the exploding expression on my face…wide eyes, slowly raising eyebrows, forehead crunching together.  This was when Susan said, "Okay, Kim, I’m trying to read your face, but I can’t…what are you thinking?"  Being comforted by the fact that we were closing in on a good 24 hours spent with these two folks, I was more than comfortable sharing the fact that I struggle with that (and every friend I have, laughs and replies, "Amen!"…even if they, too, struggle with that).  It bothers me that I have a hard time organizing my classroom (and bedroom, for that matter!) and keeping it neat and tidy.  Growing in this area would be will be huge for me!  I’m going to expect great things from God in this area.  I made a connection tonight, when my friend, Gwen, said that I must have piles on my desk space, after today.  I thought, "Yep!  And I’m not going to feel like going through those piles for a couple of days here.  To be honest, I may leave some of them for a few weeks, until our literacy team meets up again!"  What a connection between what goes on in my head to what goes on in the rooms I live in, day in and day out!

Let me take it a step further and apply this spiritually.  There may not be any application here, but please allow this to be my "journal", in which I would process through the thoughts…  What if we had a "spiritual desk space", very similar to "cognitive desk space"?  We’ve got the long-term, foundational things that God has done in us, and creatively helped us to "get".  Then we’ve got the things that He’s popping into our lives/hearts that were new recently, so they’re like short-term for a little bit (which is hopefully on an on-going basis).  And then there’s the whole other aspect of our "sds", on which He is just beginning to teach us/change in us…but He’s not going to try to do it all at once!  He’ll connect a concept or a change to a testimony of something else that He’s done in us, or that He’s been doing in us (long-term stuff) to something new!

Wow!  How’s that for processing?

Does this make sense to you at all?  It is definitely 12:35am (Hey, does this count for two days of journaling, since my first 10 minutes of this post was on Thursday, and the last 35 minutes of the post was on Friday?)…

(every time I write about the literacy project, i will sign off as Brian ends his emails. Best. to me, it’s kind of a stamp that signifies where the post stems from…i know, i’m strange…just let me be:)


10 Minutes Everyday

Monday morning at 7am, I hopped on a boat that is about to sail for the next year.  A few friends from work, and I are embarking on a project, through which a process will be learned…a deep process.  Back in May I got a miniscule glimpse of what it would look like, but even today, I have no clue how it will all come together.

Molly and Jen are the two other teachers that have the opportunity to become "master teachers", as Brian Kissman dramatically tells us we will be.  (This guy is a master storyteller and is coaching us to be as well:)  He and his business partner, Susan Sturock, are building depth in us, as educators, that I’ve never dreamed of having…I didn’t really know that it existed!  It’s extremely overwhelming at the moment, but completely okay, because I know that it will all come together and make sense once I get to process through and learn some more. 

I will definitely be blogging about this on a regular basis throughout the next year, which will be a switch from my normal life:)…even though other educators don’t even read my memoirs.  Well, perhaps my readership will be expanded.Comp_book

Let’s see if I can remember, off the top of my head, the Six Super Standards of Literacy that we’re
learning…I can’t.  Not yet.  (Oh wait, they’re right here.)  One of them has to do with students becoming proficient writers.  That’s where they’ve got me hooked, everyday.  Brian wants us to journal, in a journal, everyday for 10 minutes.  I don’t think blogging counts, although I really think it should, on the days that I do it.  But, seriously, everyday?…On some level I will thrive on the challenge of knowing that my integrity is at stake if I don’t do it, but pretend that I did by writing two entries in one day (did I just write that out loud?)  No, no!  I will become a proficient writer, in order to become a proficient writing teacher!  It must happen!  (You should see our MEAP writing scores-ouch!!!)

One thing that is nice about writing in a journal is that if I do that, I don’t have to worry about torturing people who read my randoms thoughts, cleverly typed at 10:45pm, when I’m super, super tired.  I’m not the best of writers to begin with, although I do have fun…and I even made my group laugh, both yesterday and today when I shared my entries!  We’ll have to see what I’m allowed to do:)

For real, if you read this on Thursday, remind God that I need His grace to get what I’m supposed to 🙂


40 Years Part 2

I had to add this as a "part 2"…

I just picked up this journal that I’m required to write in, for my project at school and read my first entry.  It was in response to my friend’ blog entry here. (Katie’s always inspiring me:)  And while this is something that I actually wrote, back on June 7, I really didn’t remember it as I was at the prayer meeting last night.  Here’s a snippet:

"Perhaps some healing will take place on this 40th anniversary.  Perhaps a family that is living in continual hatred of another race will choose to forgive…perhaps another family will ask forgiveness.  Perhaps a group of 20(and 30)-somethings will realize that even though we were never a part of the bigotry and hatred of the 60’s (or any other time period, for that matter), we’re almost no better by ignoring the oppressed of our city, in this new day."

That’s what I actually wrote, and maybe if I blogged it I would’ve changed the way I said a few things, but I’m glad I got those thoughts down when I did.

And what’s even cooler, is that we’re going to be sharing tomorrow, in our meetings, some of the things we wrote about!  And wouldn’t you know…tomorrow is the actual anniversary of the riots.  Perhaps God will stir something in our hearts, or at the very least, plant a seed;)  Please pray for transformation.

40 Years

I won’t try to claim to know all there is about the history of Detroit, but I did finally Detroit_riotlearn a little something about it a couple months ago. 

40 years ago "the Detroit riots" took place.  They started on a Saturday night-July 23, 1967. 

When I first started working at a school in Detroit 4 years ago, I’d heard about how there were riots that forever changed Detroit.  I’d heard that the city had never been the same again, and that some were still bitter about them…that healing was desperately needed.

Last night I had the opportunity to pray and worship with a group of people at Solid Rock church in Detroit.  It was an awesome time spent, confessing, repenting and praying over the great city of Detroit.  In addition to the pastor the church, there were other pastors leading us in prayer, including mine

Some thoughts I gathered from the Holy Spirit (through a word from a speaker, or from my own heart):

  • it’s been 40 years since this horrific event occurred…and it was also 40 that the Israelites wandered in the desert; the 40 years is up!
  • we are a city of champions (y’all better eat your Wheaties!)
  • God has given me to His city (PB says this often, but it was definitely reinforced last night)
  • with all the talk of racism, my heart breaks for Hamtramck…and God showed me the faces of all my amazing work friends that are tight with Him…we’ve got to begin praying together!
  • as we prayed for families, I realized the privilege of having well over a hundred kids’ faces (and families) to choose from and cry out to the Lord on their behalf-just because I don’t teach ’em anymore, doesn’t mean that God’s not still broken over them
  • God is full of mercy and Jesus’ blood covers the sins of our city-even the sins that are currently blatant
  • "If You can use anything (city) Lord, You can use me(Detroit)."…remember the song?  Wouldn’t it make so much sense for God to use a city that’s known for racism, crime, fatherless homes and crappy education to rise up in our country?  I definitely don’t think that God favors Detroit over other cities, but I do think that God loves to make His glory known through impossible circumstances.  And from that perspective, doesn’t D-town seem like a perfect candidate?

I really love this city and I pray that I don’t stop at the level of love that I currently have.  God, please let this (com)passion explode!  For someone that’s only been here for 5 years, I’m kind of surprised at how big this is in my heart right now and how it makes me cry out…But, God, is so holy and He wants this city to be holy.  I think He’s up for the challenge! 🙂

Hangin’ @ Mr. B’s

Tonight I hung out with some friends from work, at Mr. B’s in Royal Oak.  It was Owens’ (the other redhead’s) birthday.  It was fun-not the wild crowd this time around:)  The girl sitting next to me is Candice.  She joined us in May as our new Office Manager at Hanley.  I just recently have had a few opportunities to work next to her and help out.  We’ve hit it off-she’s a great girl.  Plus, God is just so incredible, in the way that He places like-hearted people around us!  He caused us to end up parked by each other, which meant that we walked out to our cars together and we ended up talking about the Lord and how He is moving His hand throughout this city…I love my new friend!  And I get to work with her!  God has such powerful plans for the people of Hanley-kids, staff, admin, parents…all of us!  Life is good:)

Here we have me, Candice, Owens, Glover and Krick (I referenced her yesterday:)

Krick and Tony switched spots and he’s in this one.

Happy Birthday Stephanie!!

Can I just tell you about my sister-in-law for a minute?  Her name was Stephanie Sue Hafner, until she married my big brother, David, 13 years ago, and became a Burton for life:)

She first got to know me during my most awkward years as an early teen, and she definitely knew me during my brattiest years.  At first I didn’t want to get to know her because Dave had just broken up with his high school sweetheart, whom I’d adored, and I was just so mad at him for that!  I didn’t want to give this new chick a chance.  But eventually, once she showed me how much she knew about nails and makeup, I was hooked on her (and let me tell you, she knew how to pile on the makeup and do her nails:)  It’s ironic because she’s isn’t even high-maintenance about those things anymore! 

Stephanie was my first sister-in-law, and the only sister figure I had during those teen/college years.  She bore me my first 3 nephews, and I get to hear all her wisdom as a young mom (still young at 37, Steph:)…I’m so grateful for that.  She’ll do anything for her kids, or for her husband. 

She’s a woman of God who is continually giving the Holy Spirit room to change her.  She  challenges me deeply.  Steph’s one person that has the right to speak into my life at any time and kick me in the butt about anything.  There’s nothing that I would hide from her or be ashamed to tell her…she knows me well.

We love to talk about kids, Jesus, change, ministry…She’s quite the confidant to me.

I could go on and on and on about what Stephanie means to me, as my sister and as one of my very best friends…but that’s not even possible to do right now.  I absolutely love her deeply and and I am so glad she’s been in my life all this time.

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

This is a funny picture of her at Ryder’s baby shower last year…

This is a better picture of her pregnant with Ryder last year…(so beautiful!)

And this is Stephanie with David…I love this couple:)


I’ve gotta throw a recent picture of Ryder (the offspring:)  Isn’t this kid hilarious?  I love his "alternative" hair style.

Complicating Life

Initially when I think of the word complicated, a negative connotation comes to mind.  I think thoughts like:

"Well, that complicates things."
"Why does life have to be so stinkin’ complicated?"
"Why does that person always have to make things complicated?"

In my Lifegroup last night, Mark, Glenn and I were reading and talking about how we have good complications and bad complications; God-driven complications and sin-driven complications.

Take, for instance, our schedules.  Sometimes my schedule gets complicated because I set the stage for all the things I want to do and accomplish-at times because I’m selfish and want to stand out (sound familiar?).  Other times my schedule gets complicated because God gives me passions to see things happen and He gives me the resources to do them. 

Relationships can be complicated.  As much as I want to be married, I also want to stay single!  (Yes, you read that right:)  Being single can make some things complicated-like how I don’t get to hang out with cool, married couples at church as often as I’d like, or how I know I’ll feel a little weird seeing a bunch of my old married (with kids) friends at a big gathering next month…as a single person with no prospects within the state of Michigan.  At the same time, I can’t think of the last time I had to ask someone else if they minded that I went to hang out with my girlfriends, or that I apologized for missing dinner, or that I had to check to see if it was okay that I was going away for at least 3 days, 3 times during the month of August.  There’s no way I’d be able to do all that if I were married (and with kids)!  I love being single!  And I’ll love being married.  They’re both pretty complicated in their own rights, huh?  I honestly have a gut feeling that the latter will be a bit more complicated than what life ships my way now:)

Then there’s work.  My friend, Dana, and I were talking about this just yesterday.  As we continue to grow in our profession, we seem to be earning more and more responsibility…and responsibility complicates things.  I’m not just a teacher.  I’m a nurse, a counselor, an after-school tutor, a comedian, a learner, a social worker, a parental support…plus, I’m the head of our school improvement team, a trusted person that’s always trying to get someone hired, I tend to be in "the know" about what’s going on behind the scenes with curriculum, the MEAP, and many other things that most teachers-at our school and most schools-couldn’t give a rip about, or just never ask.  So as I gain more knowledge about these things-because I’m either intuitive or nosy:)-I get asked to help out with more things-like with helping our new Dean of Discipline come up with a structure for his new program.  It makes things complicated!  But I love it!!!  It’s partly why I love working at a charter school.  Things aren’t this complicated in most regular school districts.  Most of the stuff we work on are done in offices across town, for schools like that.  But here we do the dirty work and I love being apart of it!

Serving Jesus can be very simple.  Having faith can be very simple.  I mean, if all we need is to have faith as small as a mustard seed to move a mountain…that doesn’t sound very complicated!  But check out these thoughts from Mark Batterson:

Faith embraces uncertainty.  We’ll never have all the answers.  And some people never come to terms with this truth.  They feel like something is wrong with them because they can’t wrap their minds around God.  But maybe faith has less to do with gaining knowledge and more to do with causing wonder.  Maybe a relationship with God doesn’t simplify our lives.  Maybe it complicates our lives in ways that should be complicated…Complications are often a byproduct of blessing…A relationship with God will complicate your life, but it will complicate your life in ways it should be complicated….One way or the other, life is complicated.  Good complications or bad complications-it’s your choice.

I just really liked these thoughts.  People look at the things I’m involved with and they think I want pity for being busy, but first of all, I love the things I get to do.  Teaching is a privilege.  Ministry is a privilege.  Sometimes I get tired, but I never want pity for that.  Life is not boring and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  At the same time, I can list about 5 friends whose lives are about 3x as busy as mine is, and to be honest, I look at them with pity sometimes, but they feel the same way about their complications as I do about mine.  God complications are fulfilling and fun.  When life becomes unfulfilling and seemingly crappy, that’s probably when I’d go back and re-evaluate whether the complications are a God thing.  (Sometimes they are and God wants us to suffer with Christ and not be babies about it-I see that too.)

I’d like to challenge myself to think critically about the things that are complicated around me.  Why are they complicated?  Should they be complicated?  Is this a God-complication or a a sin-complication?  This is huge.

Google Yourself!

Hey, have you ever “googled” yourself? It doesn’t hurt as much as it sounds like it might. It’s actually quite fun (if given the right time in the middle of a summer night:).

Tonight I found out that I was married to Jeff Burton, the famous racecar driver (also my cousin’s name…). I’m featured on ARTISTdirect. I’m a shining star .
I’m a professor in ergonomics (and apparently male) I’m a registered clinical counsellor I’m a Balkan expert Finally…that I’m an accordian player!

C’mon, you’re bored at work! Google yourself:)

Summer School Swimming

I’m kind of going through withdrawal from my kids, so when given the opportunity to go on a little field trip with the summer school crew today, I gladly accepted.  It was really fun because there were 6 adults and only 30 kids.  (Piece of cake;)  Here are some moments from our day…
Dsc03632 These are some of the kids that the aquatic center wouldn’t allow to swim because their bathing suits weren’t real. (SAD!)


Here we have a couple kids going down the slide.


And here we have some kids enjoying the wave pool.


This is Tony and Joi.


And this is me with one of our new staff members-Johnson.

Let’s not forget Mr. Sarvello-holding up some poor boy’s underwear…no one wanted to fess up to whoDsc03664
owned the tighty whiteys left on the ground outside:)

I love working at Hanley!!!