Prelude to the Book Talk by Don Miller

This afternoon I beat the traffic and headed up to Baltimore to hear one of my all-time favorite authors speak about his new book and some other great things to be apart of, like The Mentoring Project.  It was well worth the $7 round-trip (says my GPS) to get there:)  I enjoy reading and devouring Don Miller's work, so excited doesn't truly describe how I felt earlier today.

He writes well and I was confident he would also speak well, so I arrived with my journal…and here's my prelude…

I'm sitting in a Presbyterian church.  It's pretty and uncomfortable.  My back's been aching too much today…after 8 days of being pain-free.  I thought this was gone, but I guess not completely.  Anyway, the pews in this church are hard.  Sure, there's pew-length-long foam cushions, but they don't offer much-plus they move.  I'm not complaining.  I'm just saying.  Leave me here long enough and I will surely find 300 things to critique…which is why I'll just amuse myself with my own writing instead…and I'll start reading Don's book for the 2nd time this month.  It's worth reading once a month, but twice during the first one for sure.

…This older gentleman in a suit keeps walking people down the aisle to one of the doors to the side of the stage.  I think he's taking them to the bathroom, since it's obviously the way to the rest of the building (the entrance was just the entrance).  I'm not feeling super well and want to know where the bathroom is, but I'm afraid that I already know.  So, what if I have to go while Don is speaking?

*I just realized that Colbie Callait is playing in the speakers.  I love that.  Do I need to explain why?  I mean, they could be playing Rebecca St. James, which would be fine, but expected.  I didn't expect Colbie. 🙂

Yea, so I'm nervous that I'll have to go while my favorite hero author guy is speaking.  Could I let him know ahead of time-or slip him a note as I walk past him to exit to the john?

Sorry, Don.  I really want to hear the whole thing, but the greasy pizza from Mamma Cucina's is not completely agreeing with my insides right now.  Believe me, it would be a ton worse if I didn't go right now.  You might just want to trust me on this one.

        Your Biggest Fan,

        The Cute Redhead in the 5th Row

One of the things that makes this church a little uncomfortable for me is that there's only one entrance/exit to each pew.  I can see that they were trying to conserve aisle space, but it's just so awkward.  I'm sitting on the end (due to said problem earlier), in the 5th row, and I know that people would love to take up more of this pew, but they feel weird asking if they can hop over me to sit on the other side of me.  I certainly cannot offer to move in through, not now.  

…And now my biggest fear is confirmed…"Sir, excuse me.  Can you point me in the direction of the restrooms?"  "Do you wanna go now?"  "No."  "Okay, you go through those doors, to the left, down the stairs.  Go down the right hallway, take the next left, do 16 jumping jacks and 40 pushups, and it'll be on the right."…or was that "up the stairs?"  Great, so not only will I have to disrupt my favorite author, just to go potty, but I'll also miss half the talk because I won't be able to find the bathroom!  Maybe I should ask for a map.  Or perhaps I should update my FB status right now to ask all of my Christian friends to pray that I don't have to go to the bathroom for the next 3 1/2 hours.

Finally-2 cool people just sat next to me.  The guy made a joke about the doors on the pews.  Did I mention that?  The pews have doors on them.  Do they not want people to leave?  Do you have to hand in your tithe before they'll let you out?  "No, ma'am.  I'm sorry…that was only 9%.  The pew door is staying closed until you cough up the rest."  Why do I feel like trying to be a comedian tonight?  And why do I sound so cynical?  I'm not really, I'm just super intrigued by this church…But I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Donald Miller inspires me to write-good, bad, ugly-the guy inspires me to be real with my thoughts-even the ones that don't have a chance of coming through as super-holy.  Hmm.

Ah, we're so close to starting…

So there you have it.  My prelude.  These were my thoughts as I sat in the very pretty church, waiting for the man-writer of my dreams Donald Miller, to come out!

I have to do a plug for Susan Isaacs, too, though.  She had about 15 minutes on stage before Don came out, and she's just as gut-wrenchingly raw and honest as he is.  She's the female version of him.  I absolutely loved listening to her and truly look forward to buying her book, Angry Conversations with God, as well.  I am working on my honesty too-beyond, "Yes, I really do like your hair.  It looks great.":)  Susan will challenge me with this.  I encourage you to check out both of the books I've mentioned…and then read them twice.

How could I almost forget to mention this?  So I'm totally starstruck by this guy, for dumb reasons because I know he's just normal…but the whole time he's talking I'm all excited about the thought of getting my book signed by him, and I'm trying to come up with the best thing to say when I go up and meet him.  So what did I say?  I get to the table, 4 things in my head to choose from and…"Thanks!"  That was it.  My big moment to say whatever I wanted and I said, "Thanks!"  And I didn't even break out my camera.  :(

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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!

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:)