Tuesday, 23 February 2016


So Caleb had a question for me the other day.  I swear I don't know how kids get so smart:

"If something came along and hit the earth really, really hard and threw it out of its orbit, would the earth knock right out of its atmosphere or would the atmosphere still stay around the earth?"

(If you know, pass along your knowledge.  We still aren't sure on this one.)

Monday, 22 February 2016

Teaching method

For years, (possibly since grade 5) I have been exploring this idea I have about a teaching method.  Way back in grade five, an inspirational teacher had an idea to give us freedom in the classroom and control over our education.  Almost every subject involved independent learning, going at our own pace, and as much choice over each assignment as he could give us.  I could whiz through the math if it was easy, and slow down over a project that needed more time.  I was interested and vested in each project, which brought out my best work.  I often went over and above because I genuine interest in what I was doing.

Grade five through grade eight continued in this way.  As it turned out, however, this was more to do with being in a class outside of the regular stream (gifted.)  Over the years, the more I considered my "special education," the more I realized just how many kids might benefit from this type of classroom.

I eventually came to the decision to go to teacher's college and become a certified teacher.  In preparation, I began supply teaching and volunteering.  Getting into so many different classes began to give me a sense of what types of classrooms and teaching methods were out there.  The more I taught, the more I realized how unique my vision was.  There were a handful of teachers who verged on the idea, but no one was running their classroom the way I wanted to.

Then, finally, I hit the jackpot.  I came into a grade five classroom (not a coincidence, I think) and found the teacher running a project based curriculum.  He used technology to provide lessons and videos to convey information (instead of laminated cards and library books like I used 25 years ago.)  But the majority of each day was for the students to use as they wished.  Each term they were given a list of the projects and subjects which had to be completed.  Proposals are completed to make sure the tasks meet grade requirements, but there is so much latitude that there are many ways each student can personalize the project.

The teacher and I met at lunch and the exchange of ideas was exhilarating.  It turns out this is a pilot project for him, an idea that he wasn't sure would work but was passionate about enough to risk falling flat on his face if it failed.  It hasn't.  All but one student have thrived on the method.

I find out next week if I'm accepted to teacher's college, but I'm so disillusioned with the idea of being relegated to one of the hundreds of classroom's I've seen.  What I really want is to work with this teacher to develop and hone this method, and then see if we can inspire other teachers to use it also.  Perhaps it can be adapted for younger students (as it stands I wouldn't use it below age 10.) 

I have to remind myself that there is a time and a season for everything, and that even if I have to spend two years learning in other ways, I will have many years to come back to something like this.

Friday, 5 February 2016


There have been only a few times in my life when direct reassurement has come by way of scripture.  They are powerful spiritual moments and ones that seat themselves deep in my faith.

Our family is currently in the midst of a big life shift.  We are looking to change our means of family income, which will mean great upheaval from the last decade.  It is time, and it is right, but the details still feel unsettled.  We are waiting for word about further education, and trying to consider options should that not pan out.  All the while we are trying to make sure we make prayerful decisions so that we choose the right path for our family.

The past year and a half have been a struggle in our business as we try to right many wrongs from the past.  None of the decisions that were ill-made were ours, but unfortunately they have directly affected us.  Slowly, painfully, and carefully, we have made prudent decisions to right the ship.  And yet we have encountered opposition at every turn.

How is it possible that a spirit-led decision does not roll out smoothly?  If it is God's will for us, why does he not make the path straight?  Why are others able to make terrible decisions that derail our efforts?  Did we choose wrong?  Is it God's way of shutting the door and getting us on a different path?  In truth, these months have nearly broken my faith completely.  I have clung to the notion that God opens doors when we do his will, and yet it seems he is breaking our hearts and our spirits.

Nothing short of powers of hell and schemes of man have befallen us.  There have been moments of deep heaving sobs, soul-crushing weights, and tidal waves of fear that literally weaken my knees as I collapse to the floor.

And yet, as always (I never seem to remember this), this - THIS - is the very place God meets us and makes an unforgettable impact on our lives.  On my life.

I randomly opened my bible to Nehemiah.  Who reads Nehemiah?  Generally it's the Psalms that offer a healing balm, a sense that someone else knows this pain, too.  My eyes fell on the pages, the story of Nehemiah and the exiles Jews.  There was a vague familiarity; apparently I have read Nehemiah at some point in my past.  Nehemiah visits Jerusalem and sees the ruins of the temple.  It breaks his heart and he is inspired to rebuild it all.  With permission from the king, he gathers the Jewish people and they start to slowly raise the temple, the walls, the gates.

And then the opposition comes.  Political scheming and accusations, threats to their physical safety.  Nehemiah has to arm the laborers, set shifts to build and shifts to protect.  Over and over the opposition rises up.

God had sanctioned the rebuilding, but he did not clear the way.  Even on the right path, even with a righteous desire, the enemy was still allowed to press in.  It didn't make the path wrong.  It wasn't God trying to dissuade the people from their efforts.  Nehemiah stayed close to God, prayed continually for assurance, and then soldiered on.

Often in trying to create relevance from scriptural stories written thousands of years ago, the effort is non-existent or trite.  I draw vague modern parallels and make weak commitments.  But then, something such as this bursts forth from the pages and it is so relevant that the truth of it is undeniable.

We are on God's sanctioned path for us.  Our enemies are, sadly, real men and women with evil intent, with desire to harm.  But as we arm ourselves for protection and move forward, the end result is that our new dream will rise from the ruins in all its glory, just as the temple of Jerusalem did in ages past.

Thursday, 4 February 2016


If I become a teacher with my own classroom, I am making a solemn promise right here, right now.

I will let the light in through my windows.

There is a very common classroom habit right now of covering up windows.  Not with curtains or blinds to ease the bright sunlight from blinding students, but simply to get more wall space to put things up.  Now, to begin with I don't like wall clutter.  It makes my brain buzz and distracts me to no end.  But I have seen many teachers put big brown sheets of paper over windows so that they can hang more instructions and work and stuff.  Even more unsettling for me are the new giant wall sliders.  They are like big window size cork boards that slide right over the windows and cover them completely.  I have walked into a classroom and thought "oh, it's sad they have no windows here" only to realize the teacher has rolled these walls over top of them.

I will have windows.

I want the sun to stream in in all its glory.  I want the light and the warmth.  I want students to look out into the world and wonder.  I want them to gaze into the sky and dream.  I want them to be a little distracted so that I never fool myself into thinking it is better to have complete control over their minds and imaginations.  I want them to connect to things outside of my box.  I want them to have one foot in and one foot out.

I want them to love windows.