God is Good, Friends.

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{From Jesus Calling}

Last week, I completed my undergraduate degree. Because I graduated mid-year, I had planned on substitute teaching in a local district in hopes of acquiring a full time position for the next school year. Because of timing issues, I was not able to begin this process until January. If you know me at all, you know I am not a very patient person. I like things done efficiently and preferably in my timing. I have a hard time waiting on the Lord, even though I know His timing is perfect. Having to wait was not what I had planned to do, but it was my only option.

I, with Malone’s assistance, did all of the prep work necessary for obtaining a position. I was told to wait to hear from the district. As I sat in the car yesterday morning, I read a few passages from the devotional, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. Both passages dealt with waiting and trusting God to fulfill his promises.

It was a struggle, but I finally got myself to a place of contentment. I did not know what God was going to do, but I relied on and trusted in the fact that He is faithful and good. He has carried me this far, and I knew He would continue to do so. It was up to me to wait and trust in His timing.

{From Jesus Calling}

Four hours later, I received a phone call offering me a long-term substitute position. I was in shock. I had been told there was nothing that could be done until January. Somehow, someone somewhere approved my application. I was so thankful to have a job! I did not think it could get any better… but it did!

I had a meeting this morning to finalize all the details of the position. If you have followed my blog during my student teaching journey, you know how much I loved the students and school where I taught. It had always been a hope of mine to work there, but I knew it was very unlikely. Therefore, you can only imagine my delight when I found out I was being placed in that very same school to work with those very same students!

I was reminded of Ephesians 3:20, “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams” (MSG). I watched this verse unfold before my very eyes.

I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness. Moreover, I am thankful for graceful reminders of God’s goodness when I fall short.

A Message to Current and Future Students:

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It is a very strange feeling to have “free time.” For the past four years, I have gone to school full time while working part time. I was always on the go; I always had something to do. As I was looking at my calendar for next week, I realized for the first time that I have nothing to do (unless you count getting my hair done).

As I look back over these four years, I cannot believe how fast it went. I remember being so caught up in the classes, papers, and projects that l did not realize how quickly time was passing. While I have fantastic memories of my time at Malone, I encourage you future and current students to slow down. It is so easy to always look forward to the future, but don’t lose sight of the present.

Shauna Niequist stated in her book Cold Tangerines, “…this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.”

Stop looking forward to whatever is coming next, and enjoy the moments you are experiencing right now. It will be over before you know it.

My Students, My Calling

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Over the past 15 weeks, I have come to love my students. I could not have asked for a better group of kids with which to work. I am humbled by the opportunity to teach these students. It was an incredible experience to watch these students grow academically and socially every day. Technically, it was my job to teach them, but I can truly say they taught me!

The goodbye/Christmas gifts I made for all of my students!

I am so excited to see where these kids go in life. I am confident that they are going to do great things in their community and truly impact the world.

Tomorrow is the day that I have to say goodbye, and I can honestly say I am dreading it. I am going to miss them terribly. While teaching had its challenging moments, the students made it all worth it.

This semester has taught me the value of loving what you do. This is something I was told as a first year student, and I am thankful that during my time at Malone I was truly encouraged to pursue my calling and not just a career.

 

The End Is In Sight

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The Official Countdown!

As you can see in the picture, the countdown has begun. I cannot believe at the end of this week I will be complete with my student teaching.

It feels like yesterday was the first day of school! I remember being so nervous and feeling like I didn’t know anything! Over time, everything I learned in my classes at Malone surfaced and I began putting the educational theories and my understanding of the English language into practice.

As a teacher, I know that the best way to assess a student’s learning is to have them demonstrate the skill. I have learned so much over the past four years at Malone, and I can truly say that I apply what I have learned in the classroom everyday.

 

Perfect Match

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On the first day of my freshman orientation I remember sitting in a crowd of nervous students. Unsure of what the next four years would hold, many students (myself included) were questioning whether or not we made the right decision about coming to Malone. I remember thinking, “this decision is going to alter the rest of my life.” That was a scary thought.

The speaker, one of Malone’s Vice Presidents, must have been aware of the questioning happening in the minds of his audience because he made a statement that I still remember today. I was taken back as he said, “Malone is not perfect, and you are not either.” He finished his statement by saying, “but, we are perfect for each other.”

Four years have passed and I am almost done with college. The time I used to spend studying and writing papers is now spent filling out job applications. I was reading about different schools and districts, trying to determine where I would like to work. I was reminded of what Malone’s VP said. While teaching jobs are scarce, and I will pretty much take any job I can get, I know the importance of finding a “good match” as this decision will also alter my life.

Four years later I can truly say, “Malone is not perfect and I am not either, but it was the perfect school for me.”

As I head out into the real world, I am confident knowing that God will provided the “perfect match” of a job just like he did with my college choice.

Lasting Impact

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I have been asked multiple times why I decided to go into education. My list is endless, but in addition to loving kids, I am reminded of Luke 12:48b (NIV), “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Me and Sarah before heading out for our run!

I have been blessed with incredible teachers and professors throughout my academic career. Thanks to Facebook, I have been able to keep in contact with many of them!

This past week, I had the chance to run with my first grade teacher, who just so happens to be a Malone Alumna! In the recent years, we both have become runners. We both ran the Akron Half Marathon last year. While I stayed with 13.1 and ran the Akron Half a few weeks ago, my first grade teacher, Sarah, has decided to compete in the Columbus Marathon. I thought 13.1 miles was crazy, but apparently, that is only half crazy! In a few days, Sarah will be running 26.2 miles!

Sarah continues to have an impact on my life long after I left her classroom. This was such a great reminder as I prepare to have my own classroom in a few months.

I was blessed with such an incredible education. I am thankful for the opportunity to do the same for my students. Moreover, I am thankful for Malone and its continual impact on the lives its students, both past and present.

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I found this card on my desk this past week.
I am so blessed.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post! I have been busy lesson planning, grading, and doing all sorts of other teacher things!

Most days seem like a whirlwind! I teach all day, prepare for the next day, and do it all again. I often found myself so consumed with my “to-do” list or the next day’s lesson plan that I fail to see all of the incredible things happening around me. That is why I am so thankful for my 7th&8th grade students. Daily, they provide me with so many chances to slow down and appreciate the fun and silly moments of life. There is not a day that goes by that my students do not make me laugh.

I work with such fantastic students. They are all so unique. In the few short weeks that I have been working with them, they have touched my heart and impacted my life in so many ways. I cannot wait to see how these students impact the world!

 

Grace

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A huge part of teaching is helping your students evolve into mature, responsible, well-educated adults. As you can imagine, this is a difficult task. Sometimes you have to show tough love, and sometimes you have to show grace.

While it would be easy to penalize a student for late work, or punish a student for misbehavior, I am learning this is not always the correct approach. Do not get me wrong, I firmly believe in classroom management. Moreover, at times, they need to be shown grace and compassion in addition to being held accountable.

I want my students to succeed, and that means pushing them to their full potential, but it also means walking along side of them to help them get back on track when they stumble.

Living in the Malone community for 4 years, I learned about both tough love and grace. My professors pushed me to do by best, but also showed me grace at times when I failed.

I do not think I realized the impact that both tough love and grace had on my educational experience until now.  Once again, Malone is continuing to shape and prepare me for life’s challenges.

When Two Fields Collide

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When I entered my junior year of college I decided to add a minor. While most Integrated Language Arts majors would supplement their major with a minor in Communications or Creative Writing, I decided to go with a minor in Community and Public Health Promotion. While these may seem like two completely different fields, they complement each other in numerous ways, especially in the classroom.

Students come to school dealing with many external factors—things that have nothing to do with academics. However, these factors greatly impact their performance in the classroom. It comes down to this: you can’t make a student care about Shakespeare when they are worried about where their next meal will come from. This is where my major and minor coincide.

A huge aspect of teaching is knowing your students personally. The saying is true, “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Malone’s English department has prepared me to teach, but Malone’s Health Sciences department has prepared me to see students in a completely different light.

While this addition to my degree extended my studies by a full semester, I would not do it any differently. I can truly say that I apply elements of my major and minor daily into the classroom!

Assessment

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I cannot believe I am heading into my third week of student teaching! So far, the experience has been wonderful, shocking, eye opening, exhausting, comical, and rewarding. I never pictured myself teaching middle school. While they are a crazy bunch, I love spending my days with them!

How I plan to make it through these next fifteen weeks!
(Being an ex-barista makes you a little bit of a diva when it comes to ordering!)

Along with student teaching, I am required to complete a huge project. The assignment is a required assessment of my teaching capabilities, making it both difficult and time consuming.

While this project is not necessarily something I want to do, I am reminded of James 1:3, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Assessment is a huge aspect of teaching. We are constantly assessing our students in order to ensure they are prepared. Therefore, it is only fair that as a teacher I am assessed as well.

The responsibility I have as a teacher is far greater than I ever realized and this assignment ensures that I am prepared for such a task.

While the amount of work I have to do is substantial, Malone has prepared me to complete the task and complete it well. I am thankful for the professors and instructors at Malone who have prepared me over the past four years and continue to walk along side of me on this journey.