Upon my doorstep, wrapped in holiday tissue paper, was an adorable Baby Gap red sweater. My dear friend Denise gifted Tatum with this special outfit for Christmas. Although it could fit two Tatums, it sure looked cute! She even posed for me.
One month. One month and one week= FIVE WEEKS OLD. How is it possible that I have been home from work for 5 weeks and yet have not had time to blog about each morsel of moment I have experienced with Tatum? I now understand the value of time. Well, more like the value of uninterrupted time. Five minutes here and there..it’s there, but the second I start to eat, sleep, pee, write…it’s Totally Tatum Time. (TTT!)
So, my new goal? Write at least ONE thing a day. Maybe it’s a DEEEEEP thought like, “Why does the milk clump when poured in after the formula is in the bottle?” or maybe it’s “How come my eyebrow hairs grow more now that I don’t pluck every day?” No matter…I’ll write. I must.
This time is precious with Tatum. She is beginning to coo and emote in ways I have never seen! As she observes what she cannot yet focus on, she is taking it in with wonder. I am soaking in every minute. The past two weeks supercede the previous two in terms of my sanity. She no longer has colic (prayerfully!), and her gas has subsided. The type of water, gas drops, formula brand…all together have been the answer. Well, and LOTS OF PRAYER!
My TTT becomes more precious everyday. I shall write. Yes, I must.
Being a leader in the field of education means that I must begin with a missional attitude and a philosophy which has an upwardly focused worldview. The development of this statement and my philosophy stems from a passion which has its roots in difficult life experiences and an early life without a relationship with God. The beauty of my continued goal of staying focused and sometimes falling “forward,” is that I “KNOW for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This verse makes all the random broken pieces of my life make a beautiful mosaic for which I may not understand, but I can trust will make sense to Him.
Eight years ago I put together a leadership plan, and continuing to refine it and making it relevant is crucial. Therefore, I revisit this and make it useable for my upcoming school year.
Encourage everyone I face daily (Hebrews 10:24)
Endeavor to facilitate a lifelong love of learning (Luke 2:39-52)
Enrich others’ lives through my inspiration and experiences (1 Cor 1:26-31)
My Personal Philosophy
Every child has a light within.
Every person is created in God’s image.
God does not make junk.
My personal philosophy of education is critical in how I approach guiding and leading children along the path of growth. Because my idea of the perfect teacher is one who inspires learning and critical thinking, and she also needs to impart the required essentials. However, no fruit will blossom in the child if he/she doesn’t feel affirmed and loved. This means passion, tons of love, empathy, and grace is required of the teacher. Certainly, this is a monumental order for anyone in any profession on a daily basis. However, anyone considering this profession needs to realize that it is not just a job, but a life-giving ministry for which one must have a deep passion. Children are our future, and so the effort is worth it! Before I dive into my worldviews, however, which are personified in the classroom, I must give a background as to how they developed.
Growing up, I never thought I was being groomed for the teaching profession. Having a mother in the field and being encouraged to choose a lucrative career by both parents, prompted me to stick to a business degree. I went to business school and majored in marketing. I truly disliked the business world life because it created an internal emptiness, but I loved the marketing side because it dealt with people and their experiences. This was the road I was on for almost ten years. What came from this was an evident maturity and the ability to critically think about real-life skills which I could not have received had I jumped right into the classroom. But, as previously mentioned, what also developed from ten years in the field of sales and marketing, was a lacking in my heart. Daily, I would come home exhausted and dissatisfied. Here I was increasing the company’s bottom-line and making a hefty paycheck as I “helped” people receive products they may or may not have needed. It was gratifying for a short time, and deep down I knew I was helping, but I was focused on the wrong output. During these barren years, I also was introduced to having a life with Christ, and I accepted Him as my personal Savior and the LORD of my life. I had no idea what this meant professionally, but I knew I needed to make changes from the input I received and the output I delivered in my daily life. As I transferred into the field of education, I found a deep desire to be a light for youths in the school system because these little “lights” are our future leaders. Had I not had these experiences, coupled with my new life in Christ, my educational philosophies would have been less real to me since I had not lived what I now truly believe.
In order to live my mission statement, I must be daily FILLED. Guiding these “mini-lights” requires a 100% commitment to Christ. Why? Because commitment is more than belief but ACTION upon that belief. “A totally committed Christian is a person who confesses that, amidst the manifold and confusing voices heard in the world, there is one Voice which supremely wins his full assent, uniting all his powers, intellectual and emotional, into a single pattern of self-giving.” (23) Trueblood notes that the VOICE of Jesus Christ supersedes all other voices in one’s head, and once the Christian has made this primary commitment, although difficulties still exist, the person starts to know the joy of living for a larger purpose and his/her actions reflect such belief. This gives me wisdom, peace, and the ability to make it through those tough times. Since I am filled daily, I can be AVAILABLE to be a vessel of truth, wisdom, and guidance. As a teacher, the importance of my job continues to increase in areas of need. It is no longer about teaching students the three “R”s. It is so much more, and I need to be foundationally sound in order to remain a rock for these kids.
MISSION 1: ENCOURAGEMENT (Hebrews 10:24)
The beliefs I hold stem from the fact that I love learners, education, and the life of teaching. There exists an old adage, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Is this biblical? To make an analogy: Can a relationship with Christ be built without the knowledge that GOD truly loves me? “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high,and how deep his love is.” (Eph 3:17-19) Since I am aware, now, I have to model this in my teaching and approach to kids. Education is about looking beyond the child’s intellect, and seeing the whole child. Education is about providing students with opportunities to be challenged and still succeed. The importance of personal relationships is the foundation for ethical conduct in the education field. Why is this so important? Again, learners learn in a caring environment. I went into teaching to care for people. What I get as a serendipity is successful students, not only academically, but relationally. Parker Palmer (1998) says that, “We teach who we are.” ( p.1) We teach people, not subjects. Every child that cannot find an adult to connect with in a school is a child we have failed, and every child we have given a meaningful relationship to is a success to be savored. Why is this so important especially now? For years now, the dismal issue is the removal of parents from the home. Many households are headed by a single parent or both parents are needed to supply salaries just to survive. Whatever the reason, for many hours each day there is unfortunately no one at home. Students are no longer arriving at school ready to learn the basics, or the three “R”s. This, in turn, gives the teachers an extra role: To be nurturers.
MISSION 2: ENDEAVOR (Luke 2:39-52)
Part of my calling is the need to impart a love of learning. Jesus was a role-model in the love of learning and the gift of teaching. His passion for His ministry and His ability to impart wisdom is a role model for me. Sure, I need to teach English content, but more importantly, the plan God has set out for me is helping this next generation be passionate about what THEY love and passionate about the love of learning and growing. I am incomplete as a teacher if I am committed only to what I am teaching and not to my student as a WHOLE person. The content I teach will mean nothing unless I can engage my students and help them see connections. Jesus always taught in parables to help the student make connections to his/her own life. In other words, he never just TOLD his disciples. He had the disciples critically examine the issue and apply it to his/her own life. This means it’s vital that my teaching allows the students HOW to think about the content, and not necessarily just give them answers.
Another skill Jesus used to help his disciples learn was story-telling. Patterning, or learning through narratives helps connections as well, and since most learners are visual, it gives the learning personal meaning. Dan Pink (2006), in his book, The Whole Mind, did massive studies on the brain and what skills are necessary for success. They are much different than they were back in the Agricultural and Industrial Ages where physical strength and endurance were key. Then, the Information Age called for linear, logical, analytical reasoning (left-brained skills). This age, he calls, “The Conceptual Age”, however, will demand right side invigoration, developing skills, such as creativity, empathy, and intuition.
MISSION 3: ENRICH (1 Cor 1:26-31)
Learners need to take ownership of their learning so they feel empowered. My influence on this is of the utmost importance, because I’m not only teaching students to be skilled in school, but in the ability to be a fruitful and character filled citizen. Certainly my growth in this area was due to God choosing “the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor 1:28) I cannot boast from how God has used me, but I can empower others to be individuals with my inspiration. God wants all to be so “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph 4:14) He wants all of us to grow and be come wise in our thinking. One of the ways I do this is helping the kids with their power of the written word. I need students to see their value and to own their abilities. When they write, I can help them with their personal thoughts and passions which they have cemented on paper. I also help students as they are partners in assessing of their work. Whatever it is, students feel empowered when they are part of the learning process. My goal is that my influence and experiences will help the students be more empowered to be stronger, wiser citizens and leaders for the future. Also, if they are empowered to be individuals and critically think, they are more apt to make wise choices without being influenced by a “group-think” or peer-pressured mentality.
Encourage…..Endeavor……Enrich…..These three embody my mission daily. I believe that all children possess a light within as they achieve their full potential following the educational path. They must be given the basics. It is my hope that, as I impart the knowledge needed, I will also manage to inspire and motivate my students to seek additional learning as well as the ability to think more critically. Hopefully, also by showing them they are cared for, they can have fun in their own personal search. This is inevitably a challenge, but one that I look forward to every day.
Palmer, Parker (1998), The Courage to Teach. Jossey-Bass.
Pink, Dan (2006). A Whole New Mind. Riverhead Trade.
Trueblood, Elton (1961), The Company of the Committed. Harper and Row.
I have been teaching 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts for about ten years now. I didn’t start out in teaching, however. Upon graduation from the University of Colorado at Boulder, I went into the corporate world and worked in sales, marketing, and then management. After doing this for about ten years, I decided I wanted to pursue my first love, and that was teaching kids. I returned to get my Masters and started teaching in West Phoenix in the public school system. At this time, I decided to continue my education and pursued my doctorate and studied critical thinking and writing! Interestingly, writing for Arizona Golf Central Magazine as the Golf Chick was no plan of mine after my education, but it has been a great use of my lack of useless golf knowledge. I find the teaching of WRITING and lately GRAMMAR to be oddly fun!
After about 8 years in the public school system, I had the exciting opportunity to come to Tesseract. This is my third year here at Tesseract, and I absolutely adore the students, staff, and families. In fact, I LOVE my job and what I get to do every day! If I can help students find an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and find the desire to succeed according to their own definitions of success, then I feel I have done my job.
My faith is extremely important to me. This strong foundation built on a relationship with God guides my life, my days, my decisions and my hopes and dreams. Everything I do must glorify God and His will. He has blessed me with a tremendous family and incredible friendships. I also love to hang out with Coti (the best dog ever). In my free time, I swim or exercise, draw, read, and write articles.
However, all this is about to look a bit different! Tatum Isabella Knight has joyfully opened my heart and danced into my life. She was born on Thanksgiving 2012 at 6pm weighing in at 5 lb 11 ozs. Being a mom has been a dream of mine since I can remember, and now I am honored to fulfill this role with humility. For the next twelve weeks, I will soak up every waking moment with Tatum, putting aside all other priorities.
Thank you, Lord.
Mowing the lawn at 10:00 AM is too early and much too strenuous for many husbands. However, did you ever notice that it seems to be a lot easier for them to get up at 6:00 AM to play golf? The dense fog, rain conditions, or scorching heat doesn’t even seem to deter them. I found it amazing how my friends’ husbands who never helped out around the house had no problem replacing their divots, repairing their ball marks, and raking their sand traps.
This led me to ponder what it was about the game of golf that makes some so crazily obsessed. Is it the fact that one gets to ride around in a cart, drink beer, eat hot dogs, and do some male bonding? Maybe it was a chance to get closer to God, because on Sun- days you sure see many men out on the course, and they are doing lots of praying!
So why do men really choose to play golf? And, why would a woman want to start? According to Debbie Steinbach Keller from Venus Golf, “men choose to play golf because it’s a challenge and there is a conquerable ‘enemy’ to attack and beat.” In fact, most men do little chatting while they play because they are not multi-taskers. For women, it’s much more personal and social. Women like the relational aspect of the game. Perhaps it’s a way for her to bond with her husband, her friends, or a potential mate. Women seem to be able to chat, laugh, and even swing at the same time.
Now that I have some time on my hands, I figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about. Purchasing a set of clubs and finding a good instructor was my first step. This required doing some research, and if you’re serious, the information is out there. However, when you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s difficult to know what kinds of questions to ask. I started watching the Golf Channel and talking to various people who seemed to be knowledgeable about the sport. Through my discussions, however, I have discovered that the less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing. So, I have chosen to stay loyal to my instructor and not seek others for advice.
As my lessons have progressed, I have found my athleticism to be virtually irrelevant because the game of golf seems to be 90% mental and 10% mental. It requires a dedication of focus, relaxation, and much patience. Who has all that!? But what a life les- son it provides. This is the mentally challenging part; if I over think my swing, I ruin it. So I try to never keep more than three hundred separate thoughts in my mind during my swing.
So let’s get back to the 10:00 AM lawn mowing dilemma. Who really wants to ever mow a lawn, regardless of what time it is.And who am I to tell a man that raking a sand trap isn’t fun? In other words, I don’t have an answer for you—afterall, I am not an advice columnist! But before all the wives start to email and call, let me just say that I am on your side—that lawn needs to be mowed. I am think- ing it’s a prime opportunity for some compromise. You get something, he gets something and you get another thing and then we are all happy! But seriously, whether the challenge is to ‘conquer the enemy’, have a fun day on the links, or manicure the yard, I am finding that perspective is required. And I learned about this perspective on the links. For that I have to be grateful to the game of golf.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have put the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
I have read this verse over and over for the past 10 years. It becomes clear at times, and at others, it is like reading a mystery. Slowly, He is making known my path in life; for each day, I’m blessed by not only confusing struggles, but minor delights for which I can smile.
Last week, an opportunity of magnificent proportion dropped into my lap. Now, it may not come to fruition, however, I can see that God really listens. He has been silent in areas of my life for over a decade, but behind the scenes, He’s preparing a great feast for me as I continue to walk with Him. Yes, I’ve stumbled and been disobedient at times, but He never leaves me and is so very patient. (Like any good parent).
Thank you Father for being my REAL DAD who LOVES ME no matter what.