Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lessons on Teaching

It can be quite painful to your pride but also highly beneficial to watch a video of yourself speaking in front of an audience. 

At least that's how it was for me tonight, reviewing some videos from student-teaching in South Africa. I was thrilled at the novelty of being there; I desired to show my heart transparently and show the kids that I just loved them.....

But I don't think that was always conveyed in the way I taught them. When I go back and watch the videos, the tape does not always clearly reveal that I was completely taken with these kids and wanting to see them grow. Watching Sarah teach her 6th graders, I see how much I was missing out on the fun angle, the dramatic love of life that she so readily shares with her class. And while I'm not saying my whole personality should change in order to "wow" them, I am learning more and more that teaching is a chance for your whole personality to shine through. 

There is a reason God made me the way He did, and rather than use that to brag on myself or share endless information in front of my young audience, it CAN be used to pour myself into loving them. 

Because in retrospect, I wish I could work all the harder not just to be good at teaching them, but to build relationships with them. In a book I looked at today on teaching, there was a quote from an 11 year old girl in New Mexico who just said, 

"The greatest teacher of all.... just wants to be my friend." 

I think there's a whole bunch of truth in that statement. Even though it is a job, the kids should never ever wonder if I like being around them. They should be confident in the fact that not only do I want them to grow, but I love them for who they are RIGHT NOW. 

I am fully confident in the fact that the Lord has me here in the States learning and growing in my skills as a good teacher. I see that once again after visiting Pinedale's public school today to see Kagan Cooperative learning style and learn things to incorporate into my classroom. It was so good! 

Yet my ever-present thought was, "Could this be used in a country like South Africa? How would it be received? Do they already practice this, or is it primarily an American ideal?" I wonder if the Lord is constantly showing me these lessons on teaching - through internet, through Sarah Pitchford, and through assessment of my own methods - in order to prepare me for what He has down the road. 

I admit, I would love to pursue my education, perhaps even work on a master's degree. I want to be GOOD at what I love to do. 

Yet, the highest concept of success in my mind still remains 

in that brick schoolroom underneath the blazing and beautiful

African sun. 

As much as I know I need to grow, that is still where I long to be. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


- Sleeping in

- Horseback ride

- Picking up the pizza

- Duck Dynasty

- Painting nails with the kiddos

- Phone call with mom

I'm not feeling very eloquent, but I am feeling very full :-)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Give the Sunshine

One major mark of good leadership is knowing what to say, when to say it.

Staying with Dani and Leslie over the last couple of days was like a refreshing wave of crystal clear water surging over me! We had late-night talks and gorgeous mountain drives. And we laughed and laughed. It felt so good. A merry heart really is like a medicine.

One of those night-time conversations included Dani and I discussing what it's truly like being on the program team up at camp. This is the position that puts you in charge of activities varying from flag-raising, to games, to skits, to singing - pretty much anything that involves a day-in-the-life of camp. Even when you're frazzled (what you think is beyond repair!) you still cannot let on to just anyone who comes along.

Instead of spilling your woes to the first person to ask how you are doing, a good leader focuses on how someone else's day is, looking on the things of others rather than their own things. "What struggles are looming in front of THEM today?" "What can I do to love on them and leave them more full of hope than when we had this encounter?"

This is tough for me sometimes, because I want so much to find the balance between authenticity and courtesy, or between realism and optimism. Keeping information within the sphere of people who need to know is crucial for the team (and for the leader) to come out ahead.

I found a scrap of paper in the Pitchford household with this fitting quote scribbled on it -

"Give people the sunshine; give the rest to Jesus." 

I like that the more I think about it. HE is fully capable to bear every burden. There is nothing He does not want to hear about. Nothing too small or too tough.
But it's not enough to just take it to Him.
The final step is to leave it with Him. When I let Christ cast away my burdens and doctor up my bruises then what flows out in my conversations and friendships

is sunshine. Pure sunshine.

The tough things will still show up, and they might even be appropriate to share if it will be an encouragement to another or if it's a friend who will pray over the problem.
It IS possible to be genuine and grateful at the same time.

Katie Davis is a huge example of this. (Her blog is chock-full of lives in Uganda struggling for survival, but she ends every post with hope and gratitude.)
Dani and Leslie do this.
And I left their house today filled up to the brim with hope and gratitude.

lol see don't these look like sunshine-y people to you??