Invisible

If you had the power to be invisible, how would you use it? What would you do?

Give yourself a moment to come up with an answer before you continue reading….

Got it?

Determine a real answer for what you would do.

….OK?

Alright.

Character is exemplified by what you do when no one is looking. What does your answer say about your character?

I asked my woodshop students this question at school yesterday. I heard the same kind of answers all day long (All 7 class periods). They would:

1.) Steal things.

2.) Go to concerts, games, amusement parks, or flights without tickets.

3.) Stalk celebrities or watch them inappropriately.

4.) Listen in on private conversations from their friends.

My students had fun with the question and laughed about how cool it’d be to have that power. For the first few classes, I laughed and had fun with them too. However, as the day went on, I began to realize that no one seemed to be thinking in generous ways. No one seemed to care about the needs of others or about doing the right thing. No one wanted to hide from the bad guys and be a hero. I mean… How great would it be to secretly deliver a gift to someone and then watch their reaction?

In their answers, the power of invisibility was simply a license to get away with selfish behaviors.  I’ll ask the same question again. “What does this say about our character?” Who are we when no one is looking?

In the Scriptures, (Mark 12:42-43) we read about an little old lady who gave a small amount of money to God’s people, but it was everything she had. She was invisible and her gift was invisible, but it was this action (what she did quietly behind the scenes) for which Jesus commended her.

Who are you in the quiet? When no one is looking? Are you giving or selfish?

 

Snitches

Photo May 28, 9 02 17 PMStudent: “Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches Mr Corn….and I ain’t no snitch.” 

The phrase just hung in the air and the class was silent. What should I say? If no one in the class comes clean, then someone got away with it. This is the culture of my school, and I suspect it’s everywhere.

What I wanted to say is, “You say you’re not a snitch, but maybe you should be. What you’re saying to me is that you’re not brave enough to stand up and do is what is right. What you’re saying is that you are happy to let your friend go down a dangerous path. What you’re saying is that you think he’ll cover for you later if you cover for him now. This is not love for your friend. It’s selfishness on your part. Love would want what is ultimately the best for your friend and that includes consequences which will allow him to grow and learn from his poor choices. What you’re saying is that you don’t care enough about society and the world around you to do something about a wrong. You’re saying that you’re OK with a steady decline in the morals of our community. ‘Cause if you let him get away with it, and he lets you get away with it, eventually someone else is gonna get away with more and maybe even against you. If it continues, your children will grow up in a world where no one ever tells and everyone gets away with everything. Somehow I think, if you were the victim, you might not be saying “Snitches wind up in ditches.” You might find yourself saying, “Someone man up and do the right thing. We need justice here.” This no-snitch culture is ultimately hurting us. It’s a fast-food/I-want-it-now attitude that will plague our future. Yes, now we can get away with it, but as we do we are unconsciously telling others they can too. This creates a downward spiral of the moral fabric that guides everyone around us and will lead to our demise.

We need heroes. Heroes are courageous and self-sacrificing. They do the right thing even if it’s scary – even if it costs them something. Snitches can be heroes, and yes, maybe some of them wind up in ditches, but that doesn’t change their hero status. It only makes them bigger heroes who were willing to pay the price for what is right.

What? Pay the price? Be the hero in the ditch? It seems that our culture believes the bullies’ fear tactics have won the battle and convinced everyone that not saying anything is okay. Is there another way? I have had students who anonymously let me know what’s going on or speak without saying a word. Sometimes a look is all it takes. As a teacher, this helps me know what happened, but it doesn’t help me with addressing the situation ’cause there is no proof – sort of like inadmissible evidence. (Unless of course, the anonymous student is willing to give an official statement to an administrator while still remaining anonymous to the perpetrator.) Ultimately, I guess I’m back to heroes. We need heroes who are willing to do the right thing no matter what. 

OK – So now you know how I feel…….but what about “Tattling?” Is that the same thing? As a parent I teach my kids not to tattle every little detail ’cause I want them to learn how to “handle” some situations on their own. Part of learning how to navigate this world includes “figuring it out,” working with others, compromising, sacrificing, and sometimes it means learning how to just “deal with it.” Do I want them trying to punish the other one by hitting them? No! Of course not. But these are difficult things to navigate for a child’s mind. “How much does daddy want me to handle on my own? Where is the line?” If my child is being abused or has been with a friend who likes to play with daddy’s gun, I want him to tattle. I need him to be a snitch.

I saw a video this afternoon where someone explained to children that we never “tattle,” but it’s good to “report” something. They went on to describe reporting as an issue where someone is endangered or unsafe. This might be a helpful distinction but I haven’t had time to think through it too much. There are lots of big questions here. And what about the “lying snitches” that wrongfully accuse or implicate an innocent? So what do you guys think? I looked at over 700 images on google and couldn’t find anything speaking in a positive way about snitching. Am I way off in my thinking here? As a parent, am I creating a “no-snitch culture” by telling my kids not to tattle? Is this leading to the demoralization of our culture?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

 

Compass or Map

compassThe goal of teaching is to enable and empower students to navigate this world with a compass, but I’ve been teaching them with maps. Here’s what I mean: As a teacher, I work very hard show my students the steps it takes to accomplish a task. The problem is that if they follow those steps they get the task done.

What? That doesn’t sound like a problem.

Well, I guess it’s not a problem if your goal is the simple task, however a teacher’s goal is larger. I want my students to understand the content well enough that they can interact and navigate around completely on their own. By following the steps (my map), my students haven’t discovered the landscape around the task. Many haven’t even looked up from the map to notice the landscape. They haven’t made mistakes which would teach them how to navigate towards their goal. A compass is a much better instrument for students. It forces them to learn the landscape and to get a real grasp of the content. When they get off course, they will need to find their way back and will discover that missing a few steps is not failure. They might even discover a better way to get somewhere. A compass allows a student more freedom and room for personal expression than a map – as long as they are within the boundaries they can go anywhere they’d like. If students had this kind of freedom, they might be a bit more motivated. Compass work forces deeper thought and requires higher order thinking skills.

Let me be clear. To create a “compass” lesson is much more difficult for the teacher. It requires more flexibility and will most likely bring some chaos. The “compass” teacher/student relationship probably looks more like an apprenticeship. There needs to be more one on one time. More exploration time. There should probably be more mistakes and disasters as well. As a matter of fact, I’d say that if there aren’t many mistakes, then students aren’t learning. As hard is these ideas might be, I believe our students are worth the efforts.  

Here’s my biggest question: In this type of classroom, students must have some sort of self motivation. A teacher who works with students individually like this can’t possibly watch everyone else simultaneously. How can a teacher like this keep everyone on task? How can a teacher motivate those students who simply don’t care? Of course the answer is to give them something they care about, but the truth is that there is no course/content/class that can motivate everyone. Ideas? Thoughts? Please leave some comments, I’d really like to know your thoughts.

Woodshop Update

I’ve been teaching woodshop for over 8 months now and thought it was probably time for a little update.

YES!!! ALL MY STUDENTS STILL HAVE ALL THEIR FINGERS!!

Long story short. I like it. I didn’t really know what to think when I was getting into it, but now that I’ve had a little experience, I can say that I like it a lot. Here’s a link to our class website in case you’re interested: http://teachers.brazosportisd.net/webpages/scorn/

Teaching woodshop doesn’t have the pressure of standardized tests like one of the core subjects. More importantly, my students enjoy coming to class and that makes all the difference in the world. For the most part, we move from one project to the next and I enjoy having the ability to work with them one on one as they work their way through the project. I have learned quite a bit about how to use the machines and I’m becoming a bit of a woodworker myself. I enjoy the creative side of it and like working with my hands. When I was a youth minister, much of my work was in my head. This is a nice change.

When I come home every day, Miranda says I smell “like a man.” Of course, the downside is that it’s not very attractive when you track sawdust onto every carpet you ever walk on. I’m also beginning to wonder if this sneeze that I’ve developed is somehow related to all the sawdust I breathe?

I love having a schedule like my kids and being able to be home every night. I’m also excited about the family time I’ll have this summer.

 

Teaching Wood Shop

“Working on my carpentry skills – wanna be like the Master!”

The beginnings of my first wood shop projects since 8th grade in 1982.

I just became the “Industrial Technology” teacher at Clute Intermediate and I’m excited about the possibilities! As a former Social Studies teacher who has very little experience in wood shop, I never imagined myself in this sort of position. However, I love students and I love creative pursuits. This might very well be the perfect position for me once I get my feet on the ground a bit.

My woodworking experience includes:

– Jr High Woodshop Class
– cutting 100’s of designs for my mom as a Jr Higher (She painted and went to craft shows.)
– Built skate ramps in High School as well as later on as a Youth Minister
– Built speaker cabinets in High School
– Built an entertainment center which we still use in my house today.
– Built our current kitchen table as well as one for my first apartment many years ago.
– Built wheelchair ramps, decks, and handrails for UM ARMY and Faith in Action camps throughout the years.

Anyway, I’ve certainly got some things to learn, but this will be a fun experience combining my creative side and my love for students. As I work on my carpentry skills, I also know God will be carving away at my character. There will be times when it’s painful, but I also know He’ll be there every step of the way. I pray that with every stroke of the hammer and swipe of the blade, He’ll be molding me into a better man. Someone who can truly reach these students. Someone who can be an incredible tool in His hand.

Jesus was the Master. He was able to challenge people where they were (much like a simple block of wood) and mold them into something more. He also puts people together and shows them how to connect to make them strong structures. He is able to take our “knots” and make them beautiful.

This is my shop. Where I'll be teaching 7th & 8th graders every day.

Prayer: Lord, teach me to be a great teacher. Allow me to get to know my students so I can truly teach them. Keep us all safe as we use these dangerous machines and let all our creative juices flow steadily. Guide my students hands as they use the equipment and as they paint – give them steady hands. Let them have fun in my class and help us all learn to work together. Allow us all to feel good about our experiences and the projects we build. Let them gain some confidence in who they are and in what they are capable of accomplishing. Use our time together to make us all stronger and better people. Allow me to represent You to my students and other teachers in ways that are appropriate. AMEN.

First Circle

I want my students to live in the “First Circle.” Let me explain.

When I was a youth minister, someone once showed me the “First Circle” concept. I honestly don’t know where it originated, but I have reworked it a bit for my students. Here’s how it works:

The “First Circle” is where students work diligently on the things they are asked to do. When they do so, they are successful learners and end up being happy with themselves and their work. They make good choices and usually good grades as well.

Students enter the “Second Circle” when they come to a crossroads and make a bad choice – when they choose to break the class rules/procedures. There are usually consequences for these bad choices and they also disrupt the class. The learning process is also disrupted if a student enters the second circle.

Note: I have many student who enter this circle and then apologize. However, when they continue to misbehave and then apologize again and again without behavior change, they never return to the 1st Circle. The words of a true apology is backed up by actions and behavior change.

Students can enter the “Third Circle” pretty quickly if they choose not to apologize. This circle is NOT where I like my students to be. They end up disrupting the class repeatedly and will suffer consequences both in the classroom and out (ISS/Parent Phone Calls). Many times they destroy the learning process for themselves but also for the class as a whole. These students are usually too angry to apologize and end up causing more problems out of anger. However, when they cool off, they still have the opportunity to apologize and then start making better choices to work their way back to the first circle. they have destroyed the learning process for themselves and sometimes for the class as a whole.


Anyway, this is just a concept that I thought was worth writing up. Like I said, I didn’t create it, but I’m not sure who did. I just adapted it from a discipleship concept that I learned as a youth minister. (They used “sin” and “repentance” as the two decision points.)

Teaching Job

I have been working as a 6th grade Social Studies teacher for the last semester and will be “let go” this May due to the financial struggles of Brazosport ISD and the status of my contract. The decision does not reflect my ability to teach or work with my co-teachers/administration. My principal, Robin Pelton has written a recommendation letter which you can read here: Principal’s Recommendation

I’m NOT just looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one that I’m excited to do each day – one where I can truly make a difference in the world and impact/influence people. My teaching experience this semester has reaffirmed my desire to teach and I plan to continue pursuing this career in spite of the current situation in our district.

Previously, I worked as a full-time youth minister for 18 years. I did not have an educational background in the school system, however, I believe that my experience teaching students within the church has been a real asset. I entered the school system this year, with much more real life teaching experience than other first year teachers and I have a real love for students.

My academic background includes two years of engineering at Texas A&M, two years of music education at Texas Wesleyan, and two years at the College of Biblical Studies where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership. I believe that I am a great teacher and would love the opportunity to work with students in your school.

I have completed the “act houston” Winter 2010 Institute for alternative certification and passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam with a score of 282 out of 300. This makes me “highly qualified.” I have received a Probationary Certificate from the State of Texas and am currently working through the remainder of my internship requirements.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies and have written many articles describing my philosophies/ideas about leadership. If you’re interested, you can check out some of these articles here:

Leadership:

Leadership Compass & Teaching
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Bottom Leaders
Changing a Culture
Wizard of Oz Leadership

During this time in our lives, God has granted us peace. I’m not sure how to explain it, (Jesus is the “Peace that passes understanding.” Philippians 4:7) but we are resting in the fact that He has never let us down and that as His children, He loves us. We don’t know how we’re going to survive and keep our house from one month to the next, but we feel that He is leading us down this road toward a teaching position. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. We need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)


Teacher’s Prayer:

I want to teach my students how to live this life on earth.
To face it’s struggles & it’s strife & to improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow,
But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong,
And gather all the beauty of a flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace,
Then I shall feel that I have won & I have filled my place. .
And so I ask your guidance, God, that I may do my part.
For character and confidence and happiness of heart.
– James J. Metcalf

Integrity

Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another.

As a teacher, I witness my students’ lack of integrity every day. When they misbehave, I follow our classroom procedures to reprimand them. They almost always say, “I’m sorry.” However, I’m not sure they really are. Often, their words don’t really line up with their subsequent actions. There’s an integrity problem.

I’ve heard that integrity is “being the same person all the time” – no matter who else you’re around or what situation you find yourself in. “It’s who you are when you’re alone.” These definitions are centered around “consistency” which is also what I was taught in my Leadership Studies @ the College of Biblical Studies:

Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another – it’s how consistent you are in each of these areas.

Integrity is the “white” section.

Where our words, actions, and beliefs all agree with one another.


Here’s what it looks like when someone has a lot of integrity:


The first type of integrity problem is that of the Liar:

People lie. Sometimes we can do the right things and believe the right things, but peer pressure (or some other pressure) causes us to lie in the moment. (I guess it also works the other way – We can believe the wrong things and do the wrong things, but lie to make ourselves look better.) When we lie, we compromise our integrity. Even the “little white lie” can be dangerous. Each time we lie (no matter how small), we make ourselves more comfortable with lying. We must also remember that others are watching us. When the phone rings and a 3yr-old hears daddy say, “Tell them I’m not here,” he is learning something from his daddy.


The second type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Coward.

The coward says what he believes, but just won’t actually take any action. He’s too scared or too busy to follow through. I’ve certainly had this problem. I believe I should do a lot of things and even talk about doing them, but often get too scared to actually take the necessary steps to move forward. It easy to say that I’m just too busy, but ultimately, maybe it really is just simple fear that paralyzes us all.


The third type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Politician:

The politician will say (words) and do (actions) whatever it takes to get what he wants regardless of his own values or beliefs. He might have great beliefs, but they don’t have any deep roots. He is willing to compromise them at the smallest temptation. In general, he is simply out to fulfill his own desires regardless of anyone else. He is a dangerous person to be around.


The final type of integrity problem is the most inconsistent. You never know what you’re gonna get with these guys. They are often out of touch with reality and clueless about themselves. They have no integrity at all. (At least with the others, there are 2 of the three which line up. You might be able to predict something based on those two areas.) With the final type, there’s no predicting anything.

Notice that there is no integrity(white area) at all.


I hope my little exploration of integrity has been helpful. This information is all stuff I learned from my Biblical Leadership classes at the College of Biblical Studies.

Moon Mission Cut Short

Well…it looks like my 6th grade Social Studies Moon Mission (see my previous post) will be cut short. A couple of weeks ago, the principal came to me and said that although she’d like to rehire me, the school district (BISD) would probably not allow it. The district must cut quite a few positions and everyone who is on a “limited term” contract (those of us who were hired mid-year) will lose their position in August. Without taking into account our teaching ability or our teaching team interactions, we will simply be replaced by other teachers who have been with the district longer.

I’m extremely disappointed. I don’t like the situation at all. I love my job, my coworkers, and my students. I feel like I really “fit” here that I’ve been able to make some great positive contributions during my short time at Rasco. I still hope BISD will be able to find a way to fund all the positions, but will also be watching other job openings carefully. Miranda and I have gone through this before, and we have learned to trust God. Ultimately, He is the only provider that we can truly count on and He has never let us down.

Please say a prayer for us as we board this roller coaster of uncertainty once again. . . Wait. . . There is no uncertainty in His hands, just an unknown path.

Teaching = Walking on the Moon

I have been walking on the moon for the past 2 weeks. I lifted off from the comfortable ground of the church world and entered a new territory in the public school system. Oh yes, others have gone before me, but this is uncharted territory for me. I am treading new grounds, making tracks, exploring, and hopefully making a positive impact on the lifeforms I encounter. You may laugh, but yes, they are aliens. They dress differently, speak a different language, and look at me like I’m the strange one. It’s truly an honor to have been chosen to lead such an important mission – to develop new ways of thinking and explore uncharted territories.

I am a Rasco Rocket!

OK – enough with the allegory. I know some of you really want to know how my first few weeks of teaching have gone. Well. . . . I think it’s gone well. I’m still coming home with a smile on my face. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I feel like I’m moving forward and learning new things every day. My students are great! They get a little out of hand sometimes, but I like them. I feel like I’m getting to know both the other teachers and my students. I’m well aware that I’m still in a “honeymoon” stage, but I feel like this is going to be a good fit for me.

Prayer: Lord, guide me. Give me patience with my students and give me experiences which will sharpen my skills and help me to become a great school teacher. Grant me favor with my students and with my team as well as the administration and other coworkers. Go before me and lead me. I truly want to honor You with this new role. I want to be a positive influence for all my students and will need Your help to do so. As I learn all these new skills, give me peace. When it seems overwhelming, intervene and help me to breathe again, to rest in You. AMEN.