Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Freedom Writers? Maybe Not Yet

It's been a while since I blogged (the blurb about Sanjaya doesn't count... that was posted on a joyous whim that he won't be performing on American Idol anymore...). Since the last post I've traveled to Central Asia, returned and started a teaching job here in Raleigh. I've debated about blogging about my Central Asia trip. My conclusion is that I will redirect anyone interested in hearing about it to my friend Amy Hamm's blog. She's still there, and will be for another 2 months. Comment on it and encourage her. I mean, if you know her. If you don't, you still could, although that may be a bit awkward. You should probably introduce yourself first, that way it's not just "drive-by commenting..." I'm sure she would appreciate it any prayers and encouragement and funny stories.

On to teaching. I have a great job, I really do. I work with 2nd graders most days, and I get to take small groups of kids out to the library and help them with math or reading or phonics. They are all super sweet, and very compliant. They just need some extra help, which I am glad to give them. They make teaching an honest joy.

Then there was 4th grade. The office pages me yesterday morning to tell me I am going to be subbing for a 4th grade class. Now, let me get one thing across in this blog. Kids that are older than 3rd grade terrify me. Absolutely. But I just smile and say, "Of course, that's fine." I mean, it's my job, what am I supposed to say, "Oh, no thanks, I'd rather not." The lady in the office then looks around and leans in and basically warns me about the class that I will be entering.
So the day begins. I emailed Joanna after only an hour of being in the room, telling her that I respect her so much after I subbed the other day (my friend Joanna, who also goes to TCC teaches 4th grade at another school).

These kids did a lot of different things. It would take too much effort to dialogue even a few of the arguments that occured every 3 1/2 minutes or so, so I'll just list some of the things that happened: shoving each other off chairs (that they were standing in, mind you), yelling at me, yelling at each other, talking about each other's mama's and gramma's, storming out of the room mad at me, slamming the classroom door loudly, telling a heavier little girl that she was going to break a chair she was standing, yes standing, on. This is just a snapshot of them. As for me, I tried many tactics, and they responded to nothing. Telling them firmly but gently was a joke. Yelling only worked for about 7 seconds, and then they just expected me to yell again, and this time louder (because they were increasingly louder). I felt like an utter failure. I came home and vented to Kristin about it, and we were able to laugh about some things, which was great, and both she and Nicole were very encouraging, but I just couldn't shake the feeling of failure.

God comforted me this morning, that though I had failed in so many ways, He had been with me. He had given me grace to speak truth to these kids in small nuggets throughout the day. There was an opportunity that God gave me to tell about half the kids in the class, one on one, that they were not meeting the standards of the classroom, and that is the reason for their punishment. They were mad that they were in trouble, because usually they're "the good kids." I told them that they were comparing themselves to others and thinking that they weren't "as bad" as them. I let them know that I was holding them not to the standard of "better than the bad kids" but to the standard of the rules of the classroom that they're teacher had created.

Of course, if you are a believer in Christ and reading this, you may feel within you the desire to make an analogy that indeed, none of us can meet the standard of perfection, and yet we are all held to it. The only possibility of this perfection, or righteousness, is clinging to Christ, who has fulfilled the law and met this righteous requirement.

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,
he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Romans 8:3-4

This is the part I could not do, working in the public school system. I felt so hindered, so sad, like someone was ripping a book out of their hands just as the mystery was about to be figured out, or someone was turning off the television right before the most pivotal point in a story line. It's like reading that

"all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment."

without also hearing these beautiful truths:

"The Lord is our righteousness"

"because of him
you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption."

"For Christ also suffered
once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

Not being able to share the crux of redemptive history has really gotten to me. If anyone has any experience sharing the truth of Christ within the boundaries of a goverment/public workplace, please let me know what you have experienced, so that I can learn what is wise and what is best.

I didn't intend for this blog to be so thought-provoking in my own heart regarding what God taught me through this experience. I'm thankful for that. Now on to what I originally planned to blog about, on a more lighthearted note: the apology letters each kid wrote to me.

Their teacher found me in the hall today to give me 15 apology letters. I wanted to share a few of them, as they made me laugh out loud. A lot. :-) Here are a few of the unabridged, sweet, funny letters:

4th runner up:
Dear Ms. Christie,
I am sorry that I caused you so much trouble yesterday and have been disrespectful but me and the whole class is sorry and we really want to make it up to you so if you ever come back we will be extra good to you.
(a boy)

3rd runner up:
Dear Christie,
I'm sorry for standing up when you told me to sit down. I hope you forgive me for that, that's why I wrote you this note to show you so. I'm sorry that the class been roude.
(a boy)

2nd runner up:
Dear Ms. Christie,
I am sorry for being bisrspectful to you. I am more gooder then the way I acted and this is my aplgey to you.
(a girl)

1st runner up:
Dear Ms. Christie,
i'm sorry that I was up out of my seat and talking. I hope the next time you come back I will not talk to eny one so I will not get in trouble. Because when our teacher came to school he was mad. So the next time I think about talking I'll just shut my mouth and will not talk at all.
(a boy)

Grand Prize Winner:
Ms. Christie,
I am extremly sorry that you had to go through all the stress and I am really sorry. I hope you have a great year and that, that never happens again. I hope you find a husban and you have a great class!
(a boy)

I hope you enjoyed these little displays of remorse (mostly over being caught...) They made me laugh and almost made going through yesterday worth it. Funny kids.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good Bye Sanjaya!

I'm sure cheers have just erupted all across the nation, as Ryan Seacrest announced that Sanjaya Malakar is, in fact, going home. Good-bye Sanjaya! We wish you well...