Problem Solving in the Burton House

Probelm solving at its best at 11:15pm.

Last night, Ryder peed in Robert's bed.

So Robert is sleeping in Ross' bed with Ryder tonight.

Ross was supposed to sleep in the chaise in Dave and Steph's room, but instead fell asleep in Ryder's bed.

I was supposed to sleep in Ryder's bed, and am now on the couch.

A dog (most likely the hyperactive Bentley) apparently peed on Dave's side of the bed, so he's sleeping on Steph's side of the bed.

Steph couldn't find a place to lay her weary head, so I told her to pick up Ross and move him to the chaise, and she could sleep in Ryder's bed.

Whew!  Now if only Robert and Ryder would quietly fall asleep, a slightly tired Mim could find some zzzz's…

Great to be with some of my family.

“Live for God”, play-by-play

The Live for God Bible Study started today.  It's actually going on right now, and they're in my classroom.  Their key verse today is Philippians 2.14, with the title-"God wants us to be minty fresh!"  And my boy, Malcolm, is reading Proverbs 4 right now. 

I'm so proud of our girls, Crystal, Danielle and Victoria, who are leading.  They're so stinkin' awesome!  I love this!  And I'm listening to one of them trying to convict the kids of gossiping…"Don't lie, I know you've gossiped!"  Wow, this is great…I mean, they've got a long way to go in leading a Bible study, but this is their first one:)  (It is kind of hard not to step in though.)

Now they're instructing the kids about the 30 Second Kneeldown, where they kneel at their lockers for 30 seconds in the morning to pray.  "If they ask you what you're doing, tell them you're praying for them!  And do it!"

Memory verse time-pick a verse to write on your card and memorize the Scripture this week, but first you have to figure out what it means.

"Who's going to work on this?  Be honest!  Be honest with your parents!  Be honest with us!" 

Oh….I could go on, but I won't.  I'm pumped for this group of kids.  I truly hope that the fire that I see in the leaders catches flame in the rest of the group, and I pray that it grows.  They're so cool.  =)


It was a slightly chilly day in September, back in 1993, when I stood at the flag pole of Neshaminy Junior High school with my friend, Andrew, to pray for our school.  It was my first See You at the Pole day, and there were so many emotions flying high in me.  My dad and I picked Andrew up early enough for us to go pray for some time, and still have be able to get to class on time.  I recall a teacher coming out to join us, but I never had her and never really got to know her.  A few people stopped to ask us what we were doing.  "We're praying for you," we responded.  Throughout the day several people questioned us about our stance by the pole that morning…it was a day to stand up for your faith or die of embarrassment.  I remember that year for so many reasons…Biology class when I had to stand up for what I believed, Jason Coleman committing suicide, and Social Studies class-in which we learned about all the major religions, and because I wanted to know more about how to reach other people, I got something like a 115% on the final test because I'd memorized all that info.  It was definitely an interesting year, to say the least.

My next three years at Neshaminy High School held many more moments of sharing my faith with teachers and peers…it always started with See You at the Pole.  See You at the Pole is always on a Wednesday-the third one in September-on which students all over the country (world?) stand around their school flagpoles and pray.  The standard time is about 7am, but if your school starts earlier, you can do it any time.  It's a day when teenagers all over are endeavoring to make a statement and to simply pray together.  At NHS it always started our Wednesday morning prayer group and our Bible study (every Tuesday after school).  We had a prayer group, that was about 30 people when I graduated, that prayed in our cafeteria during breakfast every Wednesday morning.  We would pray for each other, our classmates, our teachers, our administrators, our country.  No one really led it…we just knew we had to do it.  People would randomly join us every now and then, just because we'd become somewhat of a team:) 

Fast forward to today.  It was See You at the Pole day, and I joined one of our 7th graders and my friend, Andrea, on the grass in front of our school to pray for my co-workers, my students, my administration, and my community (of Hamtramck).  At one point, I heard one of my students get out of her car and yell "Ms. Burton!!!!"  I chose not to answer, out of reverence for what was happening in that moment.  I didn't notice that she came over, and that Andrea asked her if she wanted to join us.  I'd started to pray a prayer that was from deep within my heart…and I had no idea that she was standing there.  Huh.  God is so funny…He didn't let on that she was standing there.

I felt a bit different this morning…like I was bolder when I was 14.  How did I become tainted?

This past summer when God clearly showed me a vision of a Bible study happening in my classroom this school year.  Hmmm.  I knew that I couldn't start one.  That would literally be illegal.  I knew who in my class would be interested, but I wasn't really sure how this would happen exactly.  God even gave me a verse!  These past couple of months I've been handing this to the Lord and asking Him to guide this into existence. 

This past week, a couple of girls at our school, that go to Real Church, asked to start a Bible study.  They asked if they could have it in my classroom on Mondays, after school.  Then today they went around to all the classes to tell the school about it.  "Live for God" was the title of the flyer they handed out to our kids.  About 10 kids in my class signed up, saying that they were interested (including 2 Muslim kids that I'm pretty sure didn't know what they were signing up for :).  Most of the other kids I expected to sign up, and 2 of the boys with extreme anger issues also signed up.

Honestly, do you know what happens when you see a vision happening right before your eyes?  Do you have any idea what it was like to hold back tears today? 

If you happen to think of me on a Monday, ask God to speak in our Bible study, please.  There just might be a revival in my school, yet, this year;)


Day 2. Made about 10 kids cry.

Okay, it's not as bad as it sounds, but today I decided that I either made a great choice, or a horrible choice…Here's what happened.  (and this is our 2nd day in)

For Social Studies in 5th grade, I'm teaching about early America.  Wanting to read some great historical fiction, I chose this book called Fever 1793.  It's about a time when yellow fever hit Philadelphia and wiped out about 5,000 people in 3 months!  The story opens with a girl suddenly losing her good friend to the fever.  So the literacy teacher that I am, I decide to allow my students to build a connection with this main character, who has lost someone close to her!  (Sounds innocent enough, right?)

In their journals they were to respond in one of two ways:  a)tell about a time that someone you know passed away, and how you felt, or b) tell what you think it would be like to experience something like that…what if you found out that your best friend passed away in the night…how would that effect you?

Okay, I admit it's a little deep for 5th graders…but in my class, we go deep.  What I didn't foresee is the number of kids that I would have sobbing and wailing over the thoughts of losing people that were dear to them…an uncle, a brother, a dad committing suicide, a grandfather…I'm so not kidding, the list went on.  Thankfully (and I say that loosely), some kids were just writing about a pet, or they didn't actually have any experiences to write about, but wow…the ones that did!  Good night, I'm sure that it was good for them in one sense, but I simply didn't have the man-power to counsel all of the kids that were needing it right then!  I've never, ever seen so many kids passionately crying in one room before. 

I stepped out of my room for a moment to tell my friend that I felt like a horrible teacher!  …I mean, 10 kids…I made 10 kids cry today!  Aye!

Grow. It’s What We Do.

That’s the title of my class’ new blog!!!

So, being the teacher of communication through literacy that I am, I decided that this would be the year I would start a blog for my class.  Of course I’m really excited to see if I actually keep up with it, but I think that about 2/3 of my class has the Internet at home, so I could really utilize it as a great communication tool between parents and me.  My hope is that I will be able to even post an article about once a week (or so) from a student about what we’re learning in class.  (Wouldn’t that be awesome?) 

You’re welcome to check it out here, but please don’t make any reference to this blog…I’d rather the kids not read this one:)

One of the Coolest Seniors I know

My vacation149

This is Rachel.  She was in the 5th grade classroom that I student taught in, in Minneapolis.  And now she’ll be graduating from high school next year.  She’s absolutely one of the coolest teenagers that I know.  That isn’t an exaggeration of the truth and although most of the world will never know her, the world is SO MUCH BETTER because she lives in it.  Rachel’s a living, breathing example of maturing young woman who knows Jesus, loves people, and lives in real community with her neighborhood.  I’ve seriously never met anyone like her!  It was an awesome privilege it was to hang out with her one day when I was there, and I could probably write several posts about her. 

I decided that she’s one of my young heroes.  I want to be like her when I grow up. 🙂

My Help

Exhaustion overtakes my eyes, but I simply have to write something about today!  (I really wish that I would just kick myself in the seat and choose to be more disciplined about blogging nowadays!)

From 1-7pm we had parent-teacher conferences.  Honestly-really honestly-this was the best PTC session I’ve experienced yet.  Not only was there NO conflict happening, but there was not even a string of tension or conflict present the entire time!  Never have I experienced such a thing.  As a matter of fact, this is just how blessed I was today…3 different parents told me their kids loved me (I know…awwww!), one of them said, "No, seriously, your picture is on our refrigerator!  You are talked about, everyday."  I was told that "whatever I’m doing, I’m doing right."  And the many thanks that I received made my heart all warm and fuzzy-this will last for months.

I realize that it sounds like I’m trying to brag and desperately need attention (perhaps, but not probable)…except for the fact that all good things come from God!  One parent told me that she couldn’t understand how someone could have so much patience with a big group of kids all day long…I simply reminded her that "His grace is sufficient for me and that (thankfully) she’s seeing Him and not my weakness in that area".  Seriously, think about it…the kids don’t love me!  I am nothing without Jesus…really what they love is Jesus who lives in me (they just aren’t aware of that); and although I’ve worked very hard this year to get my kids to love reading and writing as much as they do, God was the founding Father of language and He just lit a blazing fire in their little hearts for it.  I happened to be a tool that He used (that’s what I did right).  And people thanked me, but I returned thanks back to MY HELP

Yes, I felt much appreciated today-incredibly appreciated, and affirmed, and loved, and warm, and fuzzy, and respected…But in reality, today was a win for Jesus.  He was working in Hamtramck and He invited me to join His activity there.  So I did.  That’s all I did:)

29 points!?!?

Perhaps I’m a hard worker, and perhaps I’m quite passionate about what I do, but I would be a fool to take credit for something that God has done.  He is so good, and so kind to us in our weaknesses!  It just so happens that I’m a teacher and I teach all kinds of kids, with all kinds of weaknesses…here’s a snapshot of a great thing God is doing in my classroom…

Email to a parent from earlier today…(name has been changed)

Matt is definitely improving in reading!  His fluency and
comprehension have both bumped up quite a bit on the DRA test.  And on
his MAP test (on the computer).  His normal growth by the Spring would’ve
been 15 points, but he actually grew 29 points in half the time!!!!
That’s fantastic!  He’s still at about a 3rd grade level.but his growth
over the course of just months is great!  I’m so proud of himJ

…and this was a part of mom’s response…


…my conclusion?

God is SO faithful to accomplish in us what we can’t do in ourselves, by ourselves…

Girls B-Ball Tournament

So I’ve never really been all that into sports.  I never really hated watching them, but I’ve just never been
too into them…especially middle school sports (which is like, a whole new realm of sports:).

Over a month ago I was asked to take pictures at one of our middle school girls’ basketball games.  Then my smooth Athletic Director friend, Tony, got me to do concessions at a few of the games.  It was during these times that I was reminded how much I loved teenagers…which lead me right up to the girls’ b-ball tournament today.  Their first game was at 8am and then they didn’t play again until 3pm….it was a long day, and full of losses.  But I was the only teacher that came, beyondIst2_4358818_nothing_but_net their coach and 2 administrators.  I only really knew one of the girls on the team beyond "Hello" so I felt like it was funny that I was beginning to really love these girls.  Then today I got to hang out with them a little bit…and they really liked having me there!  (well some of them did:)  I had the opportunity to take some teachable moments with a couple of them, and they really cliqued with me…which was really surprising to me. 

I could never teach middle school (God bless MS teachers), but I realized today that I can still invest in their lives.  It is tough being 12, after all:)

Name Changes

Without even opening my eyes, all tangled up in my down comforter, I woke up with a couple thoughts.

First, I thought about how, a day from now I was going to be standing in front of my new class, tackling the job of getting to know their names.  And then I immediately thought of how some of them don’t think of themselves in terms of their names. (Yes, all this before I even opened my eyes:)

Some kids think their nickname is:  "Loser", "A**hole", "Shut up", or "Fool".  Others think their nickname is:  "Obnoxious", "Loud", "Stupid" or "Slow".  Still others respond to:  "Fatso", "Tubby", "Stringbean", or "Ugly". 

What response do you think I would get if I were to bring this up in my class?  Do you think my kids would sit confidently in their seats, knowing that I’m not talking to them?  Or would only a few of them do that?  Would some of them start staring at the board behind me, envisioning the moment someone named them with one of those nicknames?  How about the kid that would begin to look down at his desk, thinking I’d be talking to him…and him only?  Or what about the kid who would then, out of fear that I was going to call him out on his nickname, point to the chubbiest kid in the class and yell out, "Fatso!  She’s talking about you!"  Everyone would laugh because it would take the pressure off of them for the moment.

What if, somehow through the course of these next ten months, transformational change could take place in my kids’ lives?…so much to the point that their names were changed?

I think of how God changed Saul to Paul, Abram to Abraham, Saraii to Sarah, Kim to Kimpossible:)…there are so many more examples in the Bible of when names were changed because of either what God had done in/through them, or because of what He was promising to do in/through them.  Listed here are a few examples.

God can even change my name from "One-who-tries-to-solve-everyone’s-problems-all-the-time" to "One-who-releases-others-issues-to-Jesus" :0)  Oh, I pray for that change to occur!  I want to see my kids who are afraid to read aloud in class to be known as excellent readers (aloud).  I want to see my kids who hate writing to be known as the best in the school!  I want to see my kids who barely pass each year in math to show deep understanding of math concepts.

Oh, me and my lofty goals…:)  I suppose my goals are a bit much, compared to some of what I’ve experienced in the past.  But, as Nick from My Big Fat Greek Wedding said to Tulah, "Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be a part of who you will become."  Hopefully I can communicate to my kids that who they are now will be a part of who they’ll become…in a good way, even if it’s negative right now.  A kid that isn’t much of a reader right now that can read at grade level in May should be able to say, "I couldn’t read much in September, but look at how I’ve grown!  Now I’m a Fantastic Reader!"

In conclusion (this is how a 4th grader ends his essays;), I believe that I heard God’s voice on this one this morning.  No, it wasn’t audible, but it made my heart beat faster, the more I thought about seeing kids’ names changed.  God’s changed names with the snap of a finger, but I’ve got TEN MONTHS…GO! 🙂