I had the opportunity to preach through the book of Ruth over the last few weeks @ Grace Bible Church. In my preparations I listened to sermons by Voddie Bachaum, David Platt, Alistair Begg, and Mark Driscoll. Much of what I shared comes form these resources as well as a commentary that I wrote many years ago based upon several commentaries as well as some of my own thoughts as I studied.
The 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.
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.
“Working on my carpentry skills – wanna be like the Master!”
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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
As an 18yr veteran of full-time youth ministry, I have decided that I want to move into the educational system. 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. A teaching position seems to be the direction that God has been leading my wife and I. There are a couple of reasons:
1. I love working with students and this would put me with them every day. I have also always had an ability to connect with students who were different from the average “church-going” type of student and look forward to being able to work with them more regularly.
2. I believe my varied youth ministry experiences will be a huge asset in an educational environment. I have experience teaching, counseling, writing curriculum, training other teachers, leading groups, and supervising people. I also have experience with multimedia, interactive learning, team building, group work, and other creative teaching strategies.
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” and eligible for a Probationary Certificate from the State of Texas.
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. Some were even published by published by smallgrouptrader.com. If you’re interested, you can check out some of these articles here:
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.”
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I’m not sure what I think of all of this, but it’s really interesting to me. I’m planning on asking my alternative certification teachers about it. As public school teachers, would they be offended or do they see some of the same things themselves? I know that in my observations, I’ve seen teachers who are very concerned about the well-being of all their students. The “condemning mistakes” idea in the video may be true of the system, but I don’t think I’d say it’s true within the classroom – at least not the ones I’ve seen. Anyway, as a future teacher myself, I’m just wrestling with all these issues for the first time and hope to hear back from more experienced teachers with their reactions to this video.
Ken Robinson says this in his TED talk. (Click the link or scroll to the bottom to watch the video. It’s about 20min, but it’s really interesting stuff.)
Creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.
If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. . . and by the time they are adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They become frightened to be wrong, and we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso said this: “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” I believe this passionately – that “We don’t grow into creativity. We grow out of it.” or rather, we get educated out of it. . . . .
If you were to visit the education system as an alien and say, What’s it for? (Public Education) I think you’d have to conclude that, if you look at the output, you know, Who really succeeds by this? Who does everything they should? Who gets all the brownie points? You know, Who are the winners? I think you’d have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. . . . And I like university professors. I used to be one, but there’s something curious about them. Not all of them, but typically, they live in their heads. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads. It’s a way of getting their head to meetings. . .
The whole education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason, the whole system was invented. . . Around the world there were no public systems of education really before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. . . You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you’d never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music. You’re not gonna be a musician. Don’t do art. You’re not gonna be an artist. Benign advise. . . Universities designed the system in their own image. The consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not. Because the thing they were good at in school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way. . .
We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence. We know three things about intelligence: 1) It’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually. We think it sound. We think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms. We think in movement. 2) Intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of the human brain, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity . . . more often than not comes about by the interaction of interdisciplinary ways of seeing things. . .3) Intelligence is distinct. . .
Our educational system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth – for a certain commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principals on which we are educating our children.
I have been studying to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher who is able to encourage students in every way – one who is able to recognize different gifts and abilities – even outside the realm of the subject I am hired to teach. I have also learned in my years of church work that sometimes the best education is the one that comes through mistakes. If it’s true that in order to be creative, one has to be willing to make mistakes, then maybe we should be celebrating mistakes from students those who are actually trying. I wonder how I can foster these kinds of attitudes in my classroom?
The leadership compass is the basis for the leadership model we studied at the College of Biblical Studies.
North = Character
South = Skills
West = Relationships
East = Vision
A true leader is a man/woman of character and influence with leadership skills to move people into a new preferred future/vision. The intersections of these four points are also important. For example: If you’re having a problem with people trusting you as a leader, you’ll see that trust is at the intersection of relationships and character. That means the root of the trust problem is either 1) Your people don’t know you well enough to trust you or 2) You have character faults which make them question whether or not you can lead them. It could also be a combination of the two.
I am setting out on a new adventure in life and am seeking a teaching position in the public school system. I believe this model will help me as I seek to influence both students and other teachers. My vision as a teacher is to teach more than just the curriculum, but also true wisdom. Wisdom beyond the textbooks. This kind of goal will require a strategy and this leadership model provides the basic outline for my philosophy of education. Influence is gained through character, relationships, skills, and vision. I will seek to be a man who is qualified in each of these areas.