1 mph

1.  I am still alive

2.  Apparently I have changed my mind and would like to really start Twittering

3.  My back is getting much better (to anyone that doesn't know, I've been almost out of commission for 4 weeks now with 2 herniated discs).  I finally was able to start physical therapy last week, and I think it's helping.

4.  Still not back to work:(  And I found out (in an odd way) that I was no longer going to be teaching 4th grade reading(I completely agree with the decision, because the kids desperately need a consistent reading teacher.  With us being unsure of when I'll actually be able to go back, we don't know what I'll be doing exactly.  Maybe this is a blessing in disguise?  More on this another time.

5.  Dad is doing better with the knee surgery.  He's at home now, getting physical therapy there.

6.  I've developed some insomnia that is beginning to drive me crazy.  A few days ago I didn't fall asleep until around 6:15am.

7.  Both of my roommates are originally from Miami.  One of them is living out of Florida for the first time this year, and thinks that the temperature here is "bitter cold".  Yea, it barely gets "bitter cold" in Virginia…and really, not-so-much in September. (Sorry Vanessa:)

8.  My other roommate, Kristy, has mango and avocado trees in her dad's backyard down in Miami.  He regularly sends her picked fruit.  YUM!  I tore into a ginormous avocado today.  I will need to share a picture, just to cause you to salivate.  :0P

9.  (Back to my back for a second…)  I am now going to the YMCA, not to run as I would like, but to walk…1mph for 30 minutes a day.  It's quite a site!  One lady thought she was being encouraging when she basically told me to "keep at it" and "the exercise will get easier".  It certainly doesn't help that I don't look like I've exercised in about 2 years (which I have, just inconsistently), so onlookers think I'm just a poor schlubb who is finally doing something.  I want to design a t-shirt to wear that says, "Listen, don't judge me and my 1mph!  Before I got hurt I was doing a lot more than this…A LOT, actually!  And I was beginning to train for a 5K that I will not be attending to in a couple of weeks here.  So BACK OFF!  And stop looking at me like that."  Do you think that would look good in maybe a nice brown T, or perhaps navy, with white writing?  I could have a picture of my spine with two red, radiating discs down at the bottom, with arrows saying, "See this?  IT HURTS!"

10.  I need to get over the whole thing at the Y.  I think writing it out was theraputic.  Thanks for listening.

11.  The Sunday before "the back crisis" truly began, I visited a church that I think I'll stick with.  The pastor says many things that remind me of an old favorite, and strangely is even cornier than the former.  It's actually kind of amazing.  But I really connect with the vision of the church…it's actually very familiar.  www.dcmetrochurch.org  Check it out!  I can't wait to feel a bit more normal, physically-enough to really try to connect with people in a small group setting.  Maybe next week?

12.  One of my new favorite shows is a BBC show, based in Scotland.  It's called Monarch of the Glen, and is actually no longer on the air.  Kristy, the roommate with the avocados, absolutely loves this show and shared it with me during my first week of being almost completely bed-ridden.  Watched all 7 seasons in 1 week.  It's unlike any show that I've ever actually liked…drama, humor, culture (I never knew anything about Scotland, other than what I learned through Braveheart:)

13.  I wish I could visit my family…so close, yet so far away right now.

14.  I wish I could see some friends-other than my roommates, who have been amazing to me!!!

15.  Turned 30 a week and a half ago.  Had a great day…although it felt very strange to not spend it with my usual set of friends in Michigan.  Vanessa-roommate decorated my room with balloons and streamers while I was at the chiropractor, and bought me Q'doba for dinner (with a birthday brownie).  

16.  Truly learning more about patience right now…and that I have VERY little of it.  So many "why" questions run through my head on a fairly regular basis.  The root of them has at least changed from being full of pity, and they've become a bit more inquisitive.  Why did I move here again?  Why am I out of work?  Why did this happen NOW?  Why can't I fully recover more quickly?  Why did…the list goes on. I'll tell you what though, I have developed more compassion for people in various situations dealing with pain, back problems, healthcare/insurance, joblessness, financial issues, loneliness/isolation….

17.  Overall, I'm doing well.  Honestly, I am.  I have learned that things could be a lot worse.  They actually have potential to get a lot worse.  What can I do?  I need to trust Jesus, and that God will give me wisdom as I make decisions everyday.  Sure, it's 3:20am, and I don't feel tired enough to sleep…but I'm okay.  I really am.

18.  Taking the GRE on October 17.  As I study, I'm actually getting nervous about it.  Apparently I'm really not so great with analogies!…and some of the reading comprehension questions (what do I teach again?)

19.  Trying to get into George Washington University for their spring semester to start taking classes.  I'll be shooting for a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration.  

20.  Allow me to leave you with one last thought.  Even in your most isolated moments, how can God use you to invest into others?  This has been a thought running through my head, and I'm not sure that I have the best answer to that.  Something needs to change though…and soon.  Chew on it.

And…good morning!  "His mercies are new every morning."

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50 Kids in my Class

My friend at work was out yesterday because he went to visit his buddy in Virginia.  He has a big classroom right next to mine, and as it happens, a sub couldn't come for him.  So guess who got his class!!!  Yep!  You guessed it.  I had 50 kids in my care all day yesterday, with the exception of about an hour. 🙂

As chaotic as that may sound, it actually ended up being a great day.  I decided that because this was such a big feat, I would share it with as many people as possible.  So there.  =-D

“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.  =)

SYATP

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!

Portfolio Tips

Digging into the whole National Certification process has it's place in the overwhelmingness (not really a word) of my current life. :)  So I'm looking for any help that I can find!  Google searches like, "contributions to student learning, national board certification" have been helpful, as well as a book that finally came in at Borders, called So, You Want to Become a National Board Certified Teacher? by Jerry Parks.

In one of my searches I was reminded of something I'd read in one of my folders that I've created with all the information from the NB people…it's a great tip to remember and I'd like to put it into practice a little here on the blogosphere.

The big tip of the day is this:  There are 3 different types of writing that I will have to extend in my many, but concise pages of explanation:  descriptive, analytical and reflective.  Also explained as…what, so what, and now what?

Fantastically enough, I could probably find my own examples of each type of writing somewhere in my world. 

When you think of me, please take a moment to intercede for my health, sanity, and well-being as I journey through this process.  Thanks. 🙂

To Next Year and Beyond

So I have had this thing with my teaching certification…it expires next June. There are 2 different levels of teacher certificates around here:  Provisional and Professional.  You get your Provisional right out of college.  The state of Michigan, in order to collaborate with the colleges to squeeze as much money out of its teachers keep up with No Child Left Behind standards for teachers, require that a teacher needs to either take at least 9 credits to renew her Provisional certificate within 5 years, or take 18 credits (or a Master’s Degree) to get her Professional certificate. 

For the last several years I’ve looked and looked and tried to see how on earth I could possibly budget to take some classes to renew my certificate in June of ’09, but it just wasn’t happening.  I didn’t want anymore debt…I had a peace that it wasn’t God’s plan for my life.  I’ve looked for different ways to try to get grants to pay for it-or at least help-but with no such luck. 

Last year when I started the Literacy Project with some great professionals in my field, I thought for sure that it was going to open up a door with Grand Valley State University to receive some sort of credit to help me out with my certification…but nada.  So here I learned all this wonderful stuff, applied it, saw myself grow as a teacher, and I’ve known all spring that I wouldn’t be able to teach after this school year.  Part of me, honestly, was kind of burnt out and I wasn’t too sad about stepping out of the classroom. 

Something happened at the end of the school year (and I was encouraged by a WONDERFUL woman named Susan…one of my teaching mentors and friends) to not let go of my dream to keep teaching.  Susan really did play a great role in this, because the woman had nothing to gain or lose by me stepping out, nor staying in…but she’s seen me in my classroom, with my kids, teaching my kids…and she really, truly believes in me as a teacher!  I seriously can’t deny the power that happens when someone who knows what they’re talking about, tells you that you have a true gift for something…it does something in your heart.  (Don’t ever forget that when you’re speaking into someone’s life!  Especially if you know what you’re talking about…what you say really means something:) 

Anywho, my heart was rejuvenated, and I began to really seek God again for further direction.  I started jumping down a few different thought paths that after a day or two, definitely didn’t seem like the paths that were meant for me.  And then one day, less than 2 weeks ago, (and literally 1 day after asking a group of friends to pray for my decision-making in this area of my life-thanks friends!) I landed on this website, for the National Board Certification for teachers

I think I’d heard of national teacher certification before, but I’d never known anything about it (although I figured that it would probably be a big deal).  I’ve never known anyone that had it, and after these past couple weeks, have only found 1 person who’s ever even heard of it!  I spent some time on the website, asked some questions to other educators and people at the state department…oh yeah, and I prayed about it:)  In three days I’d had my decision (I knew I had to move quickly because of deadlines) and I applied to go through the process to become nationally certified as a teacher! 

The process doesn’t cost nearly what it would cost for me to take the credits I was needing, and the state of Michigan gives out grants that will cover half of it (not many people actually apply, so there’s a good chance I’ll receive the grant).  It will give me my Professional certificate in Michigan for 10 years!

I’m sure that I’ll have lots of things to say about the process, but for now, you can know that it’s going to take a lot of planning, organization, mad teacher skills ;-P, reflection, time, patience, and God’s creativity to pull off.  The odds are actually against me…only 40% of the teachers who apply for this ever get it, and typically teachers have 3 yearly teaching cycles to complete each part well enough to pass (if you don’t do well on one of the 5 parts, you could always pay to retake that part the next year)…I only have one year of teaching left, so this next year is my only chance!  I have until March 31st to complete my entire portfolio (many teachers have been working on this since January) and I also have to take a 6 hour long assessment on things that aren’t covered in the intensive portfolio pieces.

It seems like I’m a touch on the crazy side right now…but I have to admit that I’m running with some serious adrenaline to walk through this intensive process, and to do it well.  Only having one chance at this is very risky, but I honestly feel that God led me to this place.  I don’t believe in gambling, but I do believe in taking risks.  Risk-taking isn’t necessarily my forte, but I do value it and know that sometimes it’s just what God is calling you to do.

Needless to say, I’m excited about this opportunity to step into something a bit bigger than I’ve ever expected.  But, remember that Literacy Project that I’ve been working through?…yea, everything I need to know for this certification process I learned through the project.  Can’t help it but think that God was setting me up. 😉  All this, not to even mention the fact that I’m moving up with my students to teach 5th grade this next year, which will end up being amazing because I get to jump right into the year (and the cert process) already knowing my kids!